Meal and Prepaid Plan

Southern offers a convenient meal plan for students. There are multiple options to fit your needs. Additions to these plans are available in $100 increments during the semester. Residence hall students are automatically assigned a default amount.  Non-residence hall students must select a meal plan in order to use their card on campus.

Frequently Asked Questions: Meal Plan | Prepaid Plan

What plan should I choose?

Meal Plan  Amount per Semester






 *  Students living in Talge, Thatcher, and Thatcher South will automatically be enrolled in Southern’s Silver meal plan with the option of changing to a Bronze or Gold plan, representing lower and higher balance options. The meal plan allows students to purchase food from the Dining Hall, KR’s place, the Kayak, Village Market Deli, and vending machines on campus. Meal plan purchases are exempt from sales tax.

Why is my meal plan balance lower than what I was charged?

I am on the $1,300 meal plan but only have $850 showing on my card?

I am on the $1,500 meal plan but only have $1050 showing on my card?

I am on the $1,700 meal plan but only have $1,250 showing on my card?

This school year we have three meal plan levels for residence hall students: $1,300, $1,500, and $1,700 (Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans respectively). Out of each plan there is a set $450 food administrative fee that is being used mainly to cover the fixed cost of the food operations on campus. For each plan after the administrative fee is removed that leaves $850, $1050, and $1,250 per plan respectively, which we call the remaining balance. The remaining amount is available for purchasing food.

However, to ensure the student will receive an equal amount of food for the overall price, when food is purchased the student will receive a 40% discount on prepared food* (*See FAQ titled “Does my 40% applied to all food purchases?” for more details). For a student that is on the Bronze plan at the point that all $1,300 is used, because of the discount at the time of purchase, the value of the food purchased would actually equal $1,416. For the Silver plan, the $1050 will have purchased $1,750 of food, and the Gold plan of $1,250 the value of food would equal $2,083.

In short, because of the 40% discount, for every $1 used from the remaining balance, the original food price would have been $1.67 ($1.67 @ 40% discount is $1.00). 

  • $1,300  Plan           $850  x 1.667 =  $1,416
  • $1,500  Plan           $1050  x 1.667 =  $1,750
  • $1,700  Plan           $1,250  x 1.667 =  $2,083
Another way to think of the remaining balance is to consider it as funds in a bank account. When you go to the store to purchase an item that is $10 but is discounted at 40%, then only $6 would be removed from the bank account. If all  $1050  of the bank account funds is used to purchase items discounted at 40% , then while you only spent  $1050 , the value of all the items would equal  $1,750 . Because of the discount, the student then recoups the cost of the food service fee, and the more the student uses the plan better value the meal plan becomes. 

Does the 40% discount apply to all food purchases?

No, the 40% discount at time of purchase only applies to food prepared by Southern. In other words, it does not count towards pre-packaged foods such as bags of chips, candy bars, bottled drinks, etc. This is because we sell pre-packaged food only slightly above our purchase cost, we would be unable to cover the cost of these items if they were discounted at 40%. However, on any prepared food, because of the food administrative fee we can discount the prepared food.

If I don’t select a plan, can I still use my ID card in the Dining Hall?

For all non-residence hall students the answer is provided you sign up for a meal plan. Only students on a meal plan may use their ID card at the eateries on campus. This includes the Dining Hall, KR’s Place, Campus Kitchen, select item in the Village Market Deli, Kayak, and vending machines. Without a meal plan you must use cash, debit, or credit cards for purchases.  

Residence hall students are automatically assigned a meal plan (see FAQ "Why was I charged $1,500 for a meal plan, even though I didn't select a plan?").

When must I select my plan? 

You can start a meal plan at any time during the semester. However, switching between plans can only occur before fall semester and before winter semester—after that date, meal plans are locked in as selected.

Are my meal plan purchases taxed? 

This depends on your housing situation. Tennessee state law require all purchases to be taxed. Exemptions are granted to students that reside in an educational institution’s housing and are on a meal plan. Therefore, if you reside in Southern-owned housing (residence hall, apartment, or house) your meal plan purchases will be tax exempt.  

Why was I charged $1,500 for meal plan, even though I didn’t select a plan?

Students that reside in Talge, Thatcher, or Thatcher South are automatically assigned to the Silver Plan or $1,500 plan. Because most students housed in the residence halls need a meal plan, applying the default plan ensures students can use their ID card to purchase food after arriving on campus. In addition, it allows Southern to bill a meal plan amount up front to ensure your payment plan reflects the most accurate balance possible for the semester. To change the default plan amount to either the lower Bronze or higher amounts, click on the activate plan button and make sure to select the option listed there. Student finance counselors are happy to help you change your meal plan before the last day to add classes.  

Do I need a meal plan for summer sessions or (SmartStart)? 

Yes. All summer meal plans for Residence Hall students is $500 for the summer, the unused portion is fully refundable at the end of the summer.

What is a Prepaid Campus Account? 

A prepaid campus account gives you the convenience of using your ID card at several locations around campus: the Village Market for groceries, Campus Shop items that are non-book related, and printing/copying around campus are the main locations. The amount you select is billed to your Student Account and paid for as you pay your bill.

How is this plan different than the meal plan? 

The meal plan value is only usable at the Dining Hall, Kayak, KR’s, and the Village Market Deli, as well as select items in the Village Market. The Prepaid account can be used for Village Market groceries, Campus Shop supplies (non-books), and printing/copying services around campus.

What if I don’t use the whole amount? Is it refundable? 

After the semester is over we will refund any unused portion of the Prepaid Account.

I selected $150, but decided I don’t want this on my account, can I get a refund now? 

The selection on the Prepaid Account locks in on the last day to add classes each semester. After that date the only refund will take place after the semester is over.

Do I need a Prepaid Campus Account to purchase books? 

No, book purchases are charged to your account as you purchase them.