How Plans Work

How Meal Plans Work: The Fine Print

How to Purchase Meals

There are three options for how to purchase a meal:

  • Classic Meals are used for all-you-care-to-eat carry-out or dine-in dining hall meals. 
  • Dining Dollars can be used at any University Housing retail location for food items only or to purchase an all-you-care-to-eat meal at a dining hall. Dining Dollars work like cash, except you swipe your i-card to use the dollars (1 Dining Dollar = $1). 
  • Illini Cash is not part of a meal plan but can be purchased as a supplement and is accepted in all dining locations. Swipe your i-card to use Illini Cash.

The default payment for a meal in an all-you-can-eat location is for a Classic Meal to be deducted from your weekly allotment. If you would rather use Dining Dollars or Illini Cash for a meal, inform the checker as you enter the dining hall.

Classic Meals, Dining Dollars and Illini Cash are not refundable and cannot be transferred to another person.


Classic Meals are for your use only and cannot be used to bring in a guest. If you would like to bring a guest, you may use Dining Dollars, Illini Cash or a credit card.

Dining Dollars Rollover Policy

You may roll over a maximum of one week’s worth of your plan’s Dining Dollars into the following week (the maximum balance you can have is double your weekly allotment). Rollover of applicable dollars will occur automatically. Note: If you change your meal plan, you can roll over up to one week's worth of your plan's current Dining Dollars to your new plan.

Location Types

University Housing meal plans are welcomed at all four dining hall locations, conveniently located around campus.

Our five retail locations offer items that are priced individually. Use Dining Dollars or Illini Cash to pick up a quick snack or grab a bite to go. 

Meal Periods and Rates

If you have a meal plan with Classic Meals, you may enter a dining hall using a meal credit up to 6 times per day, once per meal period (up to the limit of your meal plan: 6 meals, 10 meals, or 12 meals). Students with the All Classic meal plan may enter once per meal period, up to 42 times per week. What time you enter a dining hall determines which meal or Dining Dollars you use. Please note: The hours posted below reflect our standard operating hours. Due to staffing coverage issues, dining center hours and locations may vary in the coming weeks. Please check the Illinois App and Housing website prior to heading to the dining center for updated information. Be sure to refresh your app regularly to receive all new updates.

Meal Period


Credit Equivalent

Breakfast 7 – 10:00 a.m. $8.63 Dining Dollars
$9.90 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Early Lunch 10:30 a.m. – Noon $10.95 Dining Dollars
$12.57 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Lunch Noon – 1:30 p.m. $10.95 Dining Dollars
$12.57 Illini Cash (includes tax
Late Lunch 1:30 – 4 p.m.  $10.95 Dining Dollars
$12.57 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Dinner 4 – 6 p.m. $14.25 Dining Dollars
$16.34 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Late Dinner* 6 – 8:00 p.m. $14.25 Dining Dollars
$16.34 Illini Cash (includes tax)

Children's Rates

Children under age 5 (accompanied by an adult) may eat for free in our dining halls. Bring your family!

The dining hall meal rates below are for children under age 12 (accompanied by an adult):
  • Breakfast: $5.04 includes sales tax* 
  • Lunch: $6.44 includes sales tax*
  • Dinner: $7.11 includes sales tax*

*Meals paid for with credit card or Illini Cash are subject to sales tax. Meals for children paid for with Dining Dollars are not subject to tax.

Prorated Meals 

Standard meal weeks begin on a Sunday. At various times of the year when the meal week begins on a different day (e.g., opening week in the fall and after some break periods) your meal plan is prorated. This means you will have fewer meals during the week than you would in a regular week during the school year. When your meal plan rate was set, prorated weeks were already figured in, so you did not pay for them.

Prorated amounts are calculated by using a percentage of meals offered to the regular weekly allotment given.