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 and express carry-out dining hall meals. 
  • Café Credits 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. Café Credits work like cash, except you swipe your i-card to use the credits (1 credit= $1.00). 
  • 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 Café Credits or Illini Cash for a meal, inform the checker as you enter the dining hall.

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


Classic Meals are for your use only and can not be used to bring in a guest. If you would like to bring a guest, you may use Café Credits, Illini Cash, or a credit card.

Café Credit Rollover Policy

You may roll over a maximum of one week’s worth of your plan’s Café Credits into the following week (the maximum balance you can have is double your weekly allotment). Rollover of applicable credits 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 Café Credits to your new plan.

Location Types

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

Our five retail locations offer items that are priced individually. Use Café Credits 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 7 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 47 times per week. What time you enter a dining hall determines which meal or credits you use.

Meal Period


Credit Equivalent

Breakfast 7 a.m.–10:30 a.m. $8.90 Café Credits
$9.70 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Early Lunch 10:30 a.m.–Noon $11.30 Café Credits
$12.32 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Lunch Noon–1:30 p.m. $11.30 Café Credits
$12.32 Illini Cash (includes tax
Late Lunch 1:30 –4 p.m.  $11.30 Café Credits
$12.32 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Dinner 4–6 p.m. $14.70 Café Credits
$16.02 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Late Dinner 6.– 9 p.m. $14.70 Café Credits
$16.02 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: $4.45; Cafe Credits $4.85 includes sales tax* 
  • Lunch: $5.70; Café Credits $6.21 includes sales tax*
  • Dinner: $7.35; Café Credits $8.01 includes sales tax*

*Meals paid for with credit card or Illini Cash are subject to sales tax. Meals for children paid for with Cafe Credits 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.