FAQ

I'm a first year student.  Am I required to have a Dining Plan?

How can I confirm my online dining plan selection?

When does my dining plan begin?

What if I want to make changes to my dining plan?

What are Dining Dollar$ and where can I use them?

How does my dining plan work?

How do I use my swipes and Dining Dollar$?

Can I take food out of the Dining Hall?

What is Meal Equivalency?

Can I have a dining plan that is only Dining Dollar$?

Can I get a refund for swipes I don't use?

What happens to my visits and Dining Dollar$ if I change during the mid-year switch period?

How can I find out how many swipes or Dining Dollar$ I have left and what can I do if I run out?

Can I use my dining plan swipes for other people?

Can I bring non-Penn guests to eat with me at an AYCTE café?

What if I want to cancel my dining plan?

What if I have special dietary or nutritional needs?

What if I keep kosher?

What if I want to eat in the dining halls and I don't have a dining plan?

What if I lose my PennCard?

Who can I contact if I have a comment or suggestion?

I'm a first year student.  Am I required to have a Dining Plan?

Freshman – Freshman are required to sign-up for one of the three First-Year Dining Plans. Students have until June 20 to select a plan, if you have not signed-up by that date we will automatically assign freshmen to the Best Food Fit dining plan, our most popular plan. Students wishing to change their dining plan after June 20 may do so during the Fall Change Period, August 29 through September 19.

Transfer - First year transfer students are required to sign-up for a dining plan choosing from any of the first-year or upperclass plans. If students do not select a plan by mid-August, they will automatically be enrolled in the Best Food Fit dining plan prior to move-in.

Exchange – Exchange students are required to sign-up for a dining plan choosing from any of the first-year or upperclass plans. If students do not select a plan by mid-August, they will automatically be enrolled in the Best Food Fit dining plan prior to move-in.

How can I confirm my online dining plan selection?

You will receive a confirmation email after you sign up online at Campus Express. You can also view your dining plan under the My Dining tab on Campus Express Online. If you do not receive the email or do not see your purchase in Campus Express, please contact the Penn Dining office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for confirmation. As a first-year student, you also can confirm your dining plan at The Campus Express Center in Houston Hall during New Student Orientation.

Back to top

When does my dining plan begin?

New students (freshman, transfer, and exchange) arriving for NSO on August 23rd are provided with most meals through an NSO dining plan which is part of the New Student Orientation experience.

Back to top

What if I want to make changes to my dining plan?

Dining plan changes are allowed once per semester during the official Change Periods. Changes will be accepted August 29 through September 19 for the Fall 2017 term and January 10 through January 31 for the Spring 2018 term. You may change your dining plan ONE time per Change Period, via Campus Express.  We encourage students to "test-drive" their dining plans for at least a week after classes begin, before deciding to change plans. If you would like to add visits or Dining Dollar$ to your current plan, you may do so at any time.

Please note: Any additional charge or refund due as the result of a dining plan change will be based on the current rates regardless of whether the initial sign-up was during a promotional period.

Back to top

What are Dining Dollar$ and where can I use them?

Dining Dollar$ are part of a dining plan. They are funds on your PennCard used to purchase items at any dining location. With each purchase made, the amount is deducted electronically from your Dining Dollar$ account balance. Undergraduate and graduate students with dining plans may add Dining Dollar$ to their PennCard at any time via Campus Express. You can use Dining Dollar$ to purchase a-la-carte items at our retail operations, including:

  • Houston Market - Houston Hall*
  • Beefsteak - Houston Hall
  • Tortas Frontera and the ARCH - 3601 Locust Walk
  • Starbucks at 1920 Commons - 38th and Locust Walk
  • The Gourmet Grocer in 1920 Commons Retail - 38th & Locust Walk*
  • Mark's Café - Van Pelt Library, Lower level*
  • Accenture Café - Towne Building*
  • McClelland Express - in the Quadrangle*
  • Joe's Café - Steinberg Hall- Dietrich Hall*
  • Pret A Manger - Huntsman Hall
  • Farmers' Market - University Square, 36th and Walnut St., Wednesdays, September through early November
  • New College House Retail*
  • Falk Dining Commons - 39th and Locust Walk

    *Locations where a 5% discount will be applied when making purchases with Dining Dollar$

    Please note: Dining Dollar$ can be used in place of swipes at our all-you-care-to-eat locations as well. The door rate when using Dining Dollar$ is as follows:

    • Breakfast - $10.35
    • Brunch/Lunch - $14.35
    • Dinner - $18.60

    Back to top

    How does my dining plan work?

    All dining plans provide a specific quantity of swipes to the all-you-care-to-eat dining cafés for the semester. These can be used at any time. All plans also include Dining Dollar$ for use at any of our dining locations. Students have the option to add swipes or Dining Dollar$ to their plan at any time throughout the academic year by visiting Campus Express.

    Please note: Swipes and Dining Dollar$ are split by semester, you will receive one-half of the allotted amount of swipes and Dining Dollar$ in the Fall, and the other half in the Spring. Any remaining swipes at the end of the Fall semester will not be added to the swipes you receive for the Spring. Dining Dollar$ will roll over from the Fall semester to the Spring semester, but expire on Commencement day.

    Back to top

    How do I use my swipes and Dining Dollar$?

    Your dining plan is encoded on your University ID (PennCard). When you present this card to the cashier at a dining location, your swipes or Dining Dollar$ will be deducted from your account. Due to certain University closures during the year, dining locations are closed as well and therefore neither swipes nor Dining Dollar$ can be used. Please visit our website regularly for the most up-to-date information regarding hours of operation.

    Back to top

    Can I take food out of the Dining Hall?

    Yes you can with out "Green 2 Go" program!

    Our dining plans were designed to provide maximum flexibility for students to enjoy our cafés. In addition to offering a variety of dining options, our all-you-care-to-eat facilities help foster a sense of campus community by allowing students to dine together. However, should you need to, there is a take-out option in the dining halls. For more information, click here.

    Back to top

    What is Meal Equivalency?

    Meal equivalency allows students to use a swipe to purchase a bundle of items (entrée, side, beverage, dessert) from select retail locations. Meal Equivalency is available at Gourmet Grocer.

    Back to top

    Can I have a dining plan that is only Dining Dollar$?

    An all Dining Dollar$ plan is available to upperclass and graduate students. Visit our Dining Plan page for more information!

    Back to top

    Can I get a refund for swipes I don't use?

    Visits to the all-you-care-to-eat dining cafés are non-refundable and we do not offer reimbursement. If you find that you are not using enough of your visits and you are eligible to do so, you have the option of changing your dining plan during our plan change periods (see details and related policy information below).

    Back to top

    What happens to my swipes and Dining Dollar$ if I change during the mid-year switch period?

    If you switch to a different dining plan during the dining-switch period, the number of swipes and Dining Dollar$ you have used will be subtracted from your new plan.

    Regardless of what dining plan you have or whether or not you change your dining plan, all Dining Dollar$ carry over from the Fall semester to the Spring semester and expire on Commencement Day. All swipes expire at the end of the Fall semester and on the last day of finals in the Spring semester.

    Back to top

    How can I find out how many swipes or Dining Dollar$ I have left and what can I do if I run out?

    Every time your card is swiped to use a meal swipe or Dining Dollar$, the remaining balance will come up on the card reader screen. You can also check your current balance of Dining Dollar$ and swipes when you log-in to Campus Express Online and click on ‘My Dining’. Students may purchase Dining Dollar$ online in any amount at Campus Express or by visiting the Penn Dining office. Students may also purchase additional meal blocks of 25 online.

    Back to top

    Can I use my dining plan swipes for other people?

    Yes you can! Every dining plan participant can use up to 10 of their swipes per academic year, 5 per semester, to bring guests into 1920 Commons, Hill House, English College House, and Falk Kosher Dining Commons. Guest Swipes are included in the total number of visits for the academic year.

    Please note: The Any Time Meal (ATM) plan and Graduate Take Your Pick plans do not include guest swipes. You are still able to take guests to any location to dine with you by paying the door rate for the meal period with your Dining Dollar$.

    Dining Dollar$ Door Rates:

    • Breakfast - $10.35
    • Brunch/Lunch - $14.35
    • Dinner - $18.60

    Back to top

    Can I bring non-Penn guests to eat with me at an AYCTE café?

    Yes!  Visitors may sign-in non-Penn affiliated guests in Hill, KCECH, and NCH for the purpose of dining together in the Penn Dining Halls of those buildings.  This policy only applies during the “open” hours in those dining locations.  Visitors cannot sign in guests to those buildings outside of the open hours of those Dining Facilities.

    Back to top

    What if I want to cancel my dining plan?

    Cancellations are not permitted unless you are leaving the University for one of the following reasons: Leave of Absence, Withdrawal, Study Abroad, Graduation, or Fall Exchange Students (cancellation for spring semester only). If you are leaving the University and need to cancel your dining contract, you MUST complete a cancellation form.

    Dining plan cancellations will only be granted when the student officially withdraws from the University. Please review the Terms & Conditions for more information regarding cancellations, including cancellations for medical reasons.

    Back to top

    What if I have a special dietary need or nutritional need?

    We encourage students to email Daniel Connolly, our Registered Dietitian, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to discuss dietary needs and food allergies. He will work with our Executive Chefs to meet your needs in the best way possible. Additionally, our Executive Chefs are knowledgeable resources and welcome questions and concerns from guests regarding ingredients and preparation of our meals. For more information, please visit the Health & Wellness section of the website.

    Back to top

    What if I keep kosher?

    Then we have just the thing to meet your needs! Penn Dining has the premiere Glatt kosher dining facility in the Philadelphia area, Falk Kosher Dining Commons located in Steinhardt Hall.  Falk’s general hours of operations include lunch and dinner Mon-Fri (including Sabbath dinner on Friday), as well as Sabbath Lunch on Saturday.   (Reservations for Sabbath meals is encouraged.)  Additionally, Falk’s schedule (and menu) will be adjusted per any Jewish Holiday. The hours of operation and menus are always kept up-to-date on our hours and menus website.  Students can use swipes, Dining Dollar$ PennCash, SFS or cash.

    For additional information regarding kosher dining at Penn, please contact the Penn Dining office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

    Back to top

    What if I want to eat in the dining halls and I don't have a dining plan?

    If you do not want to purchase a dining plan, but would still like to eat a meal at a dining location, you can pay as you go. Methods of payment accepted include PennCash, SFS credit, Visa, MasterCard, and cash. Dining plans do offer savings, however, and paying with Dining Dollar$ will also enable you to dine in an all-you-care-to-eat facility at a discounted rate.

    Door rates for all-you-care-to-eat:

    Dining Dollar$

    • Breakfast - $10.35
    • Brunch/Lunch - $14.35
    • Dinner - $18.60

    All other forms of payment

    • Breakfast - $10.75
    • Brunch/Lunch - $14.50
    • Dinner - $19.60

    Back to top

    What if I lose my PennCard?

    You must visit the PennCard Center, located on the second floor of the Penn Bookstore (36th & Walnut), to obtain a new ID card immediately (replacement fees apply). Without a PennCard, you are not guaranteed entrance to any secure campus building without some form of ID.  Students who have lost or misplaced their PennCard may enter the dining halls by first completing a Lost Card Voucher obtained from the cashier. The visits will be deducted from your dining plan and a processing charge of $2.00 will be billed to your SFS account for each voucher used. The voucher is valid only for visits covered under your dining plan. Additional visits will be billed to your SFS account.

    Back to top

    Who can I contact if I have a comment or suggestion?

    We welcome customer feedback! Please feel free to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us at (215) 898-3547.

    Back to top

     
    Move To Top