Dining Policies

Our mission is to provide you with high quality and flexible dining services. You may use your meal plan at any dining facility regardless of where you live. This is great for residents who may prefer to eat close to classes or with friends living in other residences. We encourage you to visit each dining hall, specialty restaurant, and a la carte location to discover all the delicious options dining has to offer!

Meal Plans

Undergraduate Hall Residents

Dining Services has two types of locations.  Dining has six classic locations that are buffet style or all-you-care-to-eat.  Dining has five retail or a la carte locations with individually priced items. 

Classic meals can only be used in the classic locations. Café Credits give students flexibility as they can be used in any location, classic or a la carte. Café Credits can also be used to treat a friend to a Classic Meal or a la carte items. If you need additional funds beyond your meal plan, Illini Cash (previously known as Extra Credits) can be purchased.

Classic meals and café credits are automatically added to I-cards at the beginning of each week. Classic meals expire at the end of the each week, while café credits roll over for one week. See below and the meal plans page for more details.

Plans with Classic Meals and Café Credits

  • 12 Classic Meals/15 Café Credits per week
  • 10 Classic Meals/45 Café Credits per week

Plan with Café Credits Only

  • All Café Credits (130 credits per week)

Plans with Classic Meals Only

  • Maximum Classic (47 meals per week)
  • 6 Classic meals per week (Daniels and Sherman residents and off-campus students only)

Classic Meals

Classic dining halls are located in the following residence hall areas: Ikenberry, Lincoln-Allen, Busey-Evans, Illinois Street Residence, Florida Avenue Residence, and Pennsylvania Avenue Residence.

Classic meals may only be used once per meal period. For example, you cannot use a meal credit at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast and again at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast.  The table below shows the times for each meal period. For dining hall operating hours, see the dining hall locations page.

Maximum Classic meal plan holders may enter once per meal period, up to 47 times per week.

Meal Period


Credit Equivalent

Breakfast 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. 7.80 Cafe Credits
8.94 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Early Lunch 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon 9.93 Cafe Credits
11.39 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Lunch 12:01 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. 9.93 Cafe Credits
11.39 Illini Cash (includes tax
Late Lunch 2:01 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.  9.93 Cafe Credits
11.39 Illini Cash (includes tax
Early Dinner 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. 13.01 Cafe Credits
14.93 Illini Cash (includes tax)
Dinner 6:01 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 13.01 Cafe Credits
14.93 Illini Cash (includes tax)
After Dark 8:01 p.m. - 12:00 midnight (PAR only)  9.93 Cafe Credits
11.39 Illini Cash (includes tax)

Dining halls are located in the following residence hall areas: Ikenberry Commons (Ikenberry Dining Hall), Allen, Busey-Evans, LAR, ISR, FAR, and PAR. Anyone can eat in any dining room regardless of where they live.

Café Credits

Café Credits may be used at a la carte locations and may also be used to purchase a Classic meal. If you use Café Credits for an all-you-care-to-eat meal, you receive a discount on the door price (see above prices)!

You may roll over a maximum of one week's worth of your plan's Café Credits into the following week, to a maximum of the previous week's Café Credits plus the current week's Café Credits. Rollover of applicable credits will occur automatically.

A La Carte

Use Café Credits or Illini Cash to purchase a la carte items. One credit is valued at one dollar. Check out 57 North and The Caffeinator in the Ikenberry/SDRP building, Penn Station at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls, Chomps at Illinois Street Residence Halls, and Busey Bean and Green at Busey-Evans. Wireless hotspots for laptop computers are available at retail locations.

Illini Cash

Illini Cash provides added flexibility. They can be used to purchase food items at a la carte locations or to purchase Classic meals. Illini Cash can be purchased online with a credit card, with no minimum required (computer kiosks are located near front desks for your convenience). Illini Cash may also be used for the Colonial Room lunch at the Illini Union. 

Bringing in Friends

You can use your Café Credits or Illini Cash to bring in a friend to a Classic meal. You can also use Café Credits or Illini Cash to purchase a la carte items for another person.

Additional Info

  • The calendar week for all meal plans begins and ends Sunday at 3:00 a.m.
  • No refund is made for unused meals, absences, or lost passes.
  • Two meals a day are served on national holidays and holiday observances.
  • University Housing regulations do not allow people to enter the dining room shirtless, with bare feet, or in stocking feet.

For Non-Meal Plan Holders

Faculty, staff, and students living off-campus may purchase meals by maintaining a balance of Illini Cash on their i-card, using a credit/debit card, or purchasing a meal plan.

Kosher Meal Option

Read about Kosher options and meal options during Passover. For more information on the availability of Kosher meals in the area, please visit:

Ramadan Options

Read about meal options for residents observing Ramadan.

Vegetarian Options

Read about vegetarian and vegan dining options.

Non-Transferable Rule

Your meal plan is non-transferable and cannot be used by others. Meal plan holders may be asked to show photo ID. Violations are subject to charges under the Student Code.

Meal Plan Changes

Meal plans may be changed before the contract begins, or you may wait until after you arrive on campus. See the Meal Plan Changes page for deadlines. Visit the Housing website to change your meal plan: submit the change online. You may roll over up to one week's worth of your old plan's Cafe Credits to your new plan.

Note: Students who move from an undergraduate residence hall to a graduate hall after the meal plan cancellation deadline must keep their meal plan until the next meal plan change period. 

Prorated Meal Weeks

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).

Prorating is calculated by dividing your meal plan into sevenths, representing seven days of the week. 

To figure out prorated meals:
# of days with meals x 1/7 of your meal plan= Prorated meals and credits given

Board-Only Plans for Residents of Graduate Halls

Residents in Daniels and Sherman halls do not have a mandatory board plan as part of their contract but can choose from one of the following meal plan options:

  • 6 Classic
  • Maximum Classic
  • 12 Classic/15 Cafe Credits  
  • 10 Classic/45 Cafe Credits 
  • All Credits (130) 

NOTE: This is an academic year contract that can only be cancelled before the dates listed in your contract. The 6 meals per week plans are not available to residents of the University undergraduate residence halls.

As an alternative, residents of the graduate halls can also elect to add Illini Cash to their i-cards to pay for meals. Illini Cash provides extra flexibility and can be used to purchase food items at a la carte locations or to purchase Classic meals held in residence hall dining rooms. Illini Cash can be purchased online or at a kiosk, with no minimum required.

Note: Students who move from an undergraduate residence hall to a graduate hall after the meal plan change deadline must keep their meal plan until the next meal plan change period. 

Residence Hall Dining Areas

Dining in the residence halls offers the largest selection of menu items. Hours of service and the weekly menu are available online.

Carry-Out Policy

Residents eating in the dining halls may take a choice of one piece of fruit or one cookie or one ice cream cone and a non-dairy beverage in a thermos mug (up to 22 oz.) from the dining hall. Everything else must be consumed before you leave the dining area. A $10 charge may be assessed for any item above the one item provision.

Specialty Restaurants

Students may use their meal plan to dine in any of the specialty restaurants. Specialty restaurants are located in the classic dining locations; however, they offer a special menu and a unique dining experience.

A La Carte Locations

All a la carte items may be packed and carried out, but we welcome you to stay. You may use Cafe Credits, Illini Cash, or a debit/credit card to purchase items. 

Other Locations Using Credits

The Colonial Room Lunch at the Illini Union 

Enjoy a taste of campus tradition! Join us in the Illini Union for a lunch buffet in an elegant setting. Read about the Colonial Room lunch.

Responsible Use

Residents should take what they want and enjoy what they take, but they should not waste food. Dining Services does not receive any subsidy from the University or the federal or state government. It is funded entirely by resident payments. In order to keep the cost of meal plans and dining services down, please consider the following:

  • Avoid wasting food; please take only what you can eat
  • Care for your dining area and avoid breakage of dinnerware
  • Ensure guests pay for their meals
  • If you need to borrow something, please talk to the unit manager (There is a $10 charge for each unauthorized item removed from the dining room.)

Food Credit for Absences

If a student is absent from the residence halls for seven or more consecutive days because of illness, student teaching, or a University field trip, residents may request a dining service credit of $5.80 per day at the area/hall office. Residents should notify the office before leaving for teaching or a field trip or after return from an illness. There is no dining service during University vacation periods.

New Menu Items

Dining Services is always looking for new menu items. If you have a recipe that you think would appeal to students, please share it with us. Our Test Kitchen can expand a family recipe to serve any quantity.

Public Health Requirements

 Illinois Public Health regulations do not permit food prepared outside the dining service area (including salad dressing) to be brought into or consumed in the dining room.

Temporary Replacement Cards ("Temp Cards")

Students who lose an i-card may obtain a temporary replacement card ("temp card") until another i-card is obtained. Replacement cards are available from the hall's front desk. Students are expected to go to the ID Center to replace the lost or broken ID. Lost IDs that are found later should be discarded, as they cannot be reactivated. Students should return the temporary replacement card to the area office and must have their current i-card activated within three business days of getting the temporary replacement card. If the i-card is not activated both the temporary replacement card and the i-card will remain inactive.

Sick Tray

If a student is ill, a roommate or a friend may obtain a sick tray for the ill student. The ill student should call his or her dining hall’s main office during meal hours and provide the ill student’s name, UIN (found on the i-card), and name of the friend who will be picking up the tray. Please call at least 60 minutes prior to the requested pick-up time. A Classic Meal or equivalent credits will be deducted for the meal.