College is a big step and brings about a lot of stress. Moving away from the people in your support system is nerve-wracking and adding the stress of figuring out what you need to be signed up for in college does not help.
The confusion around Coyote Cash, flex dollars and meal plans that come with it is just another stressful part of college to figure out.
Coyote Cash is pretty simple. It can be used for printing, laundry machines, vending machines and a few businesses around Vermillion like HyVee, Pizza Ranch and Subway. To get Coyote Cash you just transfer money from a credit or debit card. Ultimately, Coyote Cash is just a debit card students can use around campus and parts of Vermillion.
Flex dollars are different and they come from the meal plan students pick at the beginning of the semesters. Students can get meal plans that have credits for the MUC Dining room as well as flex money. There are also meal plans made up of just flex money.
However, these particular meal plans are not the best because they cost more money to use flex money. For example, one meal plan costs $463 per semester and you get $434 of flex money. All the restaurants on campus accept debit and credit cards so there is not a need to buy flex money when you can just use your money.
Flex money carries over from fall to spring semesters. If you don’t use all of the money in the fall semester, you can use it in the spring. However, if there is leftover money in a flex account at the end of the spring semester you will not get it back in the fall.
When the end of spring semester comes students often find themselves buying things in bulk from the pod stores around campus. If students do not use all of their flex money it expires and is not returned to students. Although some students are able to use all their flex, this is not the case for many students.
If students have a surplus of flex money at the end of the academic year, we should be able to use it on more than ordering bulk options of oftentimes unhealthy food.
Generally, students have to buy a meal plan if they live on campus and first year students need to pay at least $1,670 per semester. On top of this, SDBOR mandates that students live on campus their first and second year after graduating highschool. Because of the lack of options we have and the expense of meal plans, students should have more options for using our meal plans.
Although the ability to buy clothing from the Charlie store might be a better way of spending money for some students, this might not be realistic because clothing is not always considered to be a part of living costs.
But if students were able to transfer their flex money to Coyote Cash they could use it for laundry, printing, buying groceries from HyVee or getting dinner from another restaurant around Vermillion. All of these seem like better options of using extra flex money than buying a 20-pack of Monster Energy drinks or being forced to let the money disappear.