First Year Dining Plans

Welcome to Penn!

Penn Dining welcomes you to campus. We are eager to share our dining cafés with you and demonstrate that we are a culture driven to create food that is alive with flavor and nutrition, prepared from scratch using authentic ingredients.

Freshmen are required to enroll in a dining plan. We do this to ensure a sense of community among the Penn students, faculty and staff. Students can choose between three first-year plans with varying combinations of visits to the all-you-care-to-eat dining cafés and Dining Dollar$. You can add additional blocks of visits or any amount of Dining Dollar$ to your dining plan at any time by logging into your account on Campus Express.

First-year Transfer & Exchange students are also required to have a dining plan. Transfer and Exchange students can choose from any of our Upperclass Dining Plan options.

First-Year Dining Plans

academic year 2018-19 first year plan price table

The students at Penn are diverse and so are our dining plans. With these varying options, you’re bound to find one that’s right for you!

Away From Kitchen (AFK)

This plan is great for the student who enjoys an all-you-care-to-eat option.  The AFK Plan offers 250 meals in the Fall semester and 250 meals in the Spring semester – which averages out to 16 meals per week. In addition to the balance of meals, this plan comes with $100 Dining Dollar$ per semester to use in our retail locations.

Balanced Eating Naturally (BEN)

This plan has a good balance of Meals and Dining Dollar$--170 meal swipes and $225 Dining Dollar$ per semester.  This plan is ideal for students who want larger meals but also want the flexibility offered by Dining Dollar$ to grab a snack on the go. On this plan you have approximately 11 meals a week.

Best Food Fit (BFF)**

This plan allows for a more flexible schedule, with more Dining Dollar$--$400 per semester--and fewer meal swipe -- 135 (approximately 8 per week)-- than some of the other options. It works well for students who tend to skip meals or have busy schedules that don't allow time to eat in the dining cafés on a regular basis.

**Note: First-year students who do not sign up for a dining plan will automatically be enrolled in the BFF plan.

Dining Dollar$ Discount

Dining Plan holders will enjoy a 5% discount at Houston Market, Gourmet Grocer, Mark's Café, New College House Retail, McClelland Express, Joe's Café, and Accenture Café when using your Dining Dollar$.

Dining Plan Dates

long view of students dining in hill

Fall 2018 Dining Plans will begin on Tuesday, August 28, 2018- the first day of class.

Plans will open on Tuesday, August 28 and can be used through Wednesday, November 21.

All cafés will be closed from November 22-24, 2018.

Cafés will begin to re-open on November 25 evening, and will remain open through December 20, 2018.

Fall 2018 dining plans will end with dinner on December 20, 2018, which will have modified hours to accommodate the last exam schedule.


Spring 2019 Dining Plans will begin on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.  (Note: beginning on January 2, 2019, limited retail cafés will be open with modified hours, though January 15.)

Spring 2019 dining plans are valid from January 15-March 1, 2019.

From March 2-9, 2019, all AYCTE cafés will be closed for Spring Break.  Some retail cafés will be open during this time, at which you can use your Dining Dollar$.

Cafés will begin to re-open on March 10 evening, and will remain open through May 14, 2019.

All ACYTE cafés will be closed after May 14, 2019.

All Dining Dollar$ will expire on Commencement Day, Monday, May 20, 2019.

Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Break Meals

Our operations are closed over Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Break, as outlined above.  If you are a student with high financial need and will need meals over the Thanksgiving, Winter, and/or Spring Breaks, please contact your financial aid counselor.

Please see the Hours of Operation for the most up-to-date hours of operation.

plated mongolian grill dish on table

Need to Know Info

ATTENTION FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS: Freshmen students that do not select a dining plan by June 16, 2018, you will be automatically enrolled in the Best Food Fit (BFF) Plan, our most popular plan. First-Year Transfer and Exchange students will be automatically enrolled in the Best Food Fit plan in mid-August.

New students (first-year, transfer, and exchange) arriving for NSO are provided with most meals through an NSO Dining Plan,  which is part of the New Student Orientation experience.

If you find you would like to change your dining plan, you may do so from August 28 - September 18, 2018.  If you have any questions, please contact:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dining plans are listed by annual price, annual swipes to the all-you-care-to-eat dining halls and annual Dining Dollar$. Dining plan contracts are binding for the entire year. Billing is processed in the Fall as well as in the Spring. Students receive half of their annual swipes and half of their annual Dining Dollar$ each semester.

How Do Dining Plans Work?

Semester Allowance

Use your swipes in any of our five all-you-care-to-eat, on-campus cafés (1920 Commons, Hill College House, English College House, Café at McClelland, New College House and Falk Kosher Dining). Each time you eat in an on-campus café, one swipe is subtracted from your semester swipe allowance.

Dining Dollar$

Dining Dollar$ are funds on your PennCard used to purchase items at any Penn Dining location including our retail offerings: Gourmet Grocer and Starbucks (located in 1920 Commons), Rick Bayless' Tortas Frontera and the ARCH, Accenture Café, Houston Market in Houston Hall, Joe’s Café in SHDH, Mark’s Café in Van Pelt Library, New College House Retail and Pret A Manger in Huntsman Hall. Each time you make a purchase, that amount is subtracted from your Dining Dollar$ account balance. You can add Dining Dollar$ to your PennCard at any time via Campus Express.

plated bbq food at table setting

Cancellation and Change Policy

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).

All students will have the opportunity to log into Campus Express and make one change to their dining plan during the Fall Change Period.  The Fall Change period will run from August 28-September 18, 2018.  Students will also have a second opportunity to change their dining plan during the Spring Change Period, which will run from January 15-February 5, 2019.  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. If you have questions, please contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The dining program is not affiliated with any decision concerning financial aid to students. We cannot consider any financial matter as an acceptable reason for requesting a meal plan cancellation.

If you have more questions about dining plans, contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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