Doug Miller, For The Miami Student

By this time of the year, Miami University students’ meal plan finances may be running low, but for students who will be graduating it may not be worth it.

According to Miami’s Housing, Dining, Recreation, and Business Services (HDRBS), it might benefit students to put more money in. Students or HDRBS can transfer any leftover meal plan money into their MUlaa accounts at the end of the year. This allows students to purchase items at the various bookstores and markets around campus. Students will not get a refund check, even if they do not want to transfer the remaining money to their MUlaa account.

Nancy Heidtman, director of culinary support and the food services headquarters, said she believes Miami’s meal plan was one of the first of its kind. Miami implemented the Diplomat Plan in the late 1990s, in order to provide students with more flexibility in their meal plans. Before the Diplomat Plan, students were given block meal plans, meaning they were given the three standard meals a day, according to Heidtman.

“It really was a use it or lose it plan, and students would really only eat at their dining halls,” Heidtman said.

According to Heidtman, as dining operations became more complex, HDRBS decided to implement the Diplomat Plan, which allowed students to choose how much they wanted to put in their account at a given time. It also allowed students to transfer any remaining money in the meal plan into their MUlaa accounts.

“The transfer to MUlaa helps students manage their plans, and lets them use their unused balance,” Heidtman said.

Brian Woodruff, director of housing operations, meals and events, said he was here when the Diplomat Plan started. He said he believes this plan makes Miami unique because many schools do not give refunds for extra money in meal plans.

“Students are able to choose a level that fits their eating schedules, while also allowing them to buy things from the bookstores at the end of the year,” Woodruff said.

According to him, Miami will automatically transfer the remaining meal plan money into the MUlaa account for students who do not transfer their money on their own. This includes seniors who would be graduating at the end of the year. Seniors who want to come back and visit the school over the summer will also be able to use their frozen MUlaa accounts.

“Seniors who have graduated have asked me to unfreeze their accounts when they come back to visit,” Woodruff said.

For those graduating seniors who do not come back to visit and use their MUlaa, however, they will not get a refund check. MUlaa is a non-refundable account, but the Diplomat Plan is more student-friendly than most schools. Instead of not giving any kind of refund, the remaining meal plan balance can be transferred to a MUlaa account, according to Woodruff.

Sophomore Nick Pryse said he likes that Miami transfers his remaining meal plan money into his MUlaa account.

“I use MUlaa at both the beginning and end of the year at the bookstores, and this makes it easier than putting money into separate accounts,” Pryse said.

Both Woodruff and Heidtman said they are always interested in hearing student’s opinions regarding better meal plans.

“We are both looking at benefits for students, and working with the eating facilities in Armstrong and the new dining halls on west and south campus,” Heidtman said.