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Costs of College Meal Plans Getting Tougher to Swallow

An analysis of campus dining contracts from around the country shows that colleges are charging students far more for each meal than the typical American spends to eat at home, helping drive the rising cost of higher education.

The average college and university charges about $4,500, or $18.75 per day, for a three-meal-a-day dining contract that covers the eight months or so of a typical academic year, according to information the institutions provide to college guide Peterson’s.

That’s more than the average $3,989, or less than $11 a day, that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a single person spends for food in a year, meaning undergraduates appear to be forking out 70 percent more per day on campus than they would likely pay to cook and eat on their own.