Frequently Asked Questions

General Dining Plan FAQs


To determine which plan to select, you may want to consider your current and future activities. If you lead an active lifestyle, or are an athlete requiring a higher caloric intake, a plan that offers the maximum number of all-you-care-to-eat meals may be the best choice. If your eating style is light, and you prefer fewer full course meals in favor of more frequent smaller meals and snacks, then you may want to select a plan with fewer meals, supplemented with Dining Dollars or Flex. Of course, there are several meal plans specifically designed for students whose dining style falls someplace in between.

No! Your Dining Plan, Dining Dollars, and Flex are all accessed entirely through your University ID card. 

Your Dining Plan can be used at John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons, and JJ's Place. You can use your Dining Dollars, Flex, or cash at any of the on-campus dining locations.

Yes! There are two Kosher Dining Plans available:

1. Columbia University Kosher Dining Plan

When you enroll in any of the Columbia Dining Plans (first year or otherwise), you may elect to participate in the Kosher Dining Plan. This allows you access to our Kosher To-Go counter within John Jay Dining Hall that serves a full array of Kosher items (entrees, side dishes and vegetables served daily). You can sign up at any time throughout the semester by calling 212-854-4076.

2. Barnard College Kosher Dining Plan

The Barnard College Kosher Dining Plan provides 3 Kosher meals a day, 7 days a week. High quality food, including freshly-made pizza and a great salad bar, is conveniently located in Barnard's main dining facility, Hewitt Hall. Both Barnard and Columbia students can enjoy their meals in comfort with the rest of the student population. The Kosher dining plan is strictly supervised k'halakhah by the Columbia/Barnard Hillel Rabbi. Additionally, the Barnard Kosher Dining Plan provides a homey atmosphere for Shabbat, Yom Tov, and other festive occasions. For more information, please contact Barnard Dining Services.

Dining Plan changes may be submitted only during the Dining Plan Change Period which typically runs for two weeks each semester. See our calendar for specific dates. Changes cannot be submitted outside of this period.

Please note: There is a $30 fee to change Dining Plans. We are unable to accept cancellations of Dining plans or offer refunds.

If you have questions about your Dining Plan, please email the Dining Services Manager, Rosie Fernandez, at [email protected].

It is important to understand that changes are made manually and processed in the order received. You can expect the difference in cost from your old plan to your new plan to reflect on the second term bill statement.

For increment plans, any unused meals from the fall will become available once you use your entire spring meals. Weekly allowance plans do not roll-over.

Yes! All first year students are given up to 6 guest meals each term, while participants of the upperclass/graduate/GS meal plan are given up to 15 guest meals each term. The number of guest meals you receive depends on which dining plan you are on. When you swipe in at the door, simply tell the cashier how many guests are with you and the meals will be deducted from your account.

Yes. You can use your meals at either school. At Columbia, Barnard meal plan holders can use exchange meals at John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons and JJ's Place. At Barnard, Columbia students can dine at Hewitt, Liz's Place or the Diana.

Only students on the Kosher Dining Plan have access to Kosher areas at either school.


All First-Year students are required to have a meal plan, but enrollment after the first year is optional.

  • First-Year meals expire at the end of each week;
  • Upperclass, GS, and graduate meals in Plan A / Weekly meals expire each week.
  • Plan A / Term, Plan B / Dining Dollars, and Plan B / Flex meals expire each term.
  • Plan A / Meals Only, Plan C, & D meals expire at the end of the academic year.
  • Plan EZ1, 2, & 3 meals expire each week.

Yes, if you are on a term-based plan and you use all of your meals before the end of the term, you can purchase additional meal packs. Please contact the Dining Services Manager, Rosie Fernandez, at [email protected] to learn more.

Dining Dollars and Flex FAQs

Yes, Bonus Dining Dollars are held in a separate account and can only be accessed if a cashier uses the "Best Available Tender" key. If you would like to use Bonus Dining Dollars, please let the cashier know. Bonus Dining Dollars roll over from year to year until you graduate. If you would like to know what your Bonus Dining Dollars balance is, please contact Rosie Fernandez at [email protected] or 212-854-4076.

Dining Dollars can be used at all Columbia Dining and Barnard Dining locations. Dining Dollars are tax-free, roll over year-to-year until graduation, and operate as a declining balance account, much like a debit card.

Flex can be used at all Columbia Dining locations, as well as the Columbia Bookstore, vending and copy machines, select off-campus retailers and for online food delivery through Grubhub. Flex purchases are subject to sales tax, but similar to Dining Dollars, they roll over year-to-year until graduation and operate as a declining balance account.

Log into Student Services Online to have it billed to your student account statement.

Dining Dollars and Flex accounts roll over from year to year until you graduate.

Please submit this form to report any issues using your Flex off-campus.

Misc FAQs

Email [email protected] with the machine number and the amount of the purchase. Our vending partner, Canteen, will work with you directly to process the refund.

Visit the online Columbia Card Deactivation website to inactivate your account so no one can use it. Then go to the ID Center in 204 Kent Hall to get a new University ID card. Everything will be on your new card. 

Yes, you may purchase a single meal at all of our dining halls with Flex, Dining Dollars, or by credit card. Meal costs are as follows:

  • Breakfast: $12.50
  • Lunch: $17.00
  • Dinner: $18.50

Pricing may differ during special events.