Students at Carson's Market

Dining for Residents: 2021-22

Dining Plan Changes Coming for 2022-23

Resident dining plans are changing to a new weekly meals program for the 2022-23 academic year. Visit our Resident Dining page for 2022-23 dining information. All information below applies only to the current 2021-22 academic year.

University Housing at UW-Madison offers a mix of à la carte and all-you-care-to-eat options at our dining markets, coffeeshops, and convenience stores in six Housing locations across campus.

When you live in University Residence Halls for the 2020-21 Academic Year, using your Wiscard (student ID) for payment in Housing dining locations gets you a 30% discount on prepared food and a 10% discount on pre-packaged food, compared to non-resident prices. (These discounts do not apply to Summer Term residents, at Starbucks at Smith Hall, or to orders placed through the Starship Deliveries app).

In addition, all enrolled UW-Madison students are exempt from sales tax on food purchases when paying with Wiscard, saving you an additional 5.5% at most campus dining locations.

Resident Dining Plan

All new residents living in University Residence Halls will be asked to select a dining plan tier for food purchases for the year, based on your eating habits. That amount will be part of your Housing bill and will be deposited into a Resident Food Account on your Wiscard, which is used exclusively for on-campus dining. This money is nontransferable. If you eat more than this amount, you can add money to your Wiscard at any time and continue getting your resident discount on food.

A dining plan is not required for returning residents, but they do have the option of participating in a dining plan if they choose (this is available through My UW Housing). Residents in University Apartments are not eligible to purchase a resident dining plan.

Mobile Ordering – Pick up and Delivery Options

We are offering pick-up and delivery options to through GrubHub and Starship Technologies. All you have to do is download the respective apps and place your order. Be sure to pay with your Wiscard to receive all resident discounts.

For all GrubHub orders, there will be pick-up locations outside all dining locations during meals period where you will be able to pick-up your order.  For Starship Technologies orders, the robots will come to you. Simply place your order, drop a pin to your location, and the robot will come to you.

Which tier is right for me?

Due to COVID-19, some dining plan meal perks have changed. Please review the chart to see changes. If you would like to change your dining plan, you can do so through MyUWHousing until August 15, 2021 for the Fall 2021 semester and between November 25 – December 15, 2021 for the Spring 2022 semester.

wdt_ID Dining Plan Tier 2021-22 Amount* Approx. # of Meals/Week** Incentives**
1 Tier 1 1,500 ~8 Resident Pricing
2 Tier 2 2,000 ~11 Resident Pricing
3 Tier 3 2,900 ~16 Resident Pricing, fountain drinks for a penny, and 20% discount on care packages

*For the Academic Year. Nontransferable. Rates and incentives are subject to change.

**This is an estimate, based on discounted prices in Housing dining markets over a 32-week Academic Year, spending roughly $5 per meal. Actual amounts will vary based on eating habits, food choices, and additional food items purchased beyond meals. Food purchases at Wisconsin Union locations do not receive discounted resident pricing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How the Dining Plan Works

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Is this an a la carte dining program?

Yes, all food purchases are made a la carte, giving students the flexibility to eat what they want, when they want it, including the ability to take food to-go. Student feedback has shown us that this model is strongly preferred over the all-you-can-eat options seen at many other institutions.

How do I know what tier to choose?

Students should base their selection on their eating habits and how many meals they anticipate having on campus per week. Students may consider choosing one of the higher tiers if they expect to eat on-campus multiple times per day, plan to stay on-campus over most weekends, tend to eat larger meals, or often spend additional money on late night snacks, coffee, groceries, etc.

When do students select their dining plan tier?

Selection of meal plans open for the 2021-22 academic year in February 2021. If you would like to change your dining plan, you can do so through MyUWHousing until August 15, 2021 for the Fall 2021 semester and between November 25 – December 15, 2021 for the Spring 2022 semester.

Do students receive resident pricing on food?

Yes, students living in University Residence Halls receive discounted residential pricing on all food in all University Housing locations when using their Resident Food Account/Wiscard for payment.

What can be purchased with the Resident Food Account?

The Resident Food Account can be used to purchase food and beverages in any University Housing or Wisconsin Union location on campus. It cannot be used for books, laundry, printing, clothing, events, tech supplies, or other non-food items. Those purchases can be made through the separate Wiscard account.

What are the incentives to choose a higher-level tier?

All meal plan tiers include discounted resident pricing on food in all University Housing locations. With the Tier 3 plan, residents get fountain drinks for a penny and a 20% discount on care packages.

Dining Plan Costs

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How was the $1,500 amount set for the Tier 1 plan?

$1,500 is the baseline for an average of nine meals per week based on student meal choices, which gives flexibility to students who may not dine on campus every day or who travel home on a regular basis, while still encouraging good eating habits. The number of meals required at Big Ten and UW System schools was evaluated for comparison, as well as typical resident food expenditures. The plan also factors in typical spending on beverages, groceries, and snacks at campus locations outside of meals.

What if I spend all of the money on my food account and need more?

Students and parents can easily add money to the account at any time through the Wiscard website or by visiting an in-person deposit location at Union South, Slichter Hall, or the Gordon Dining & Event Center.

How do the costs of UW-Madison's dining plan and housing compare to other campuses?

UW-Madison offers the lowest-cost room and board plan in the Big Ten and is the only school in the Big Ten to maintain a purely a la carte program. All Big Ten and UW System schools have required meal plans for on-campus residents ranging from $2,480 to $6,200 ($3,255 to $6,200 in the Big Ten).

How do students pay for the dining plan?

Payments for the Resident Food Account are divided up evenly among the two semester bills from University Housing for room and board. For a student on the Tier 1 plan, these food payments would equal $750 per semester bill.

Can I use financial aid to cover my food purchases?

With our dining plans, the money for food purchases is included in the two semester room and board bills, which can be paid with financial aid. For residents paying with financial aid, the money for food will still be loaded on their Resident Food Account in advance before the start of the semester.

How is the money for food purchases disbursed to the student?

Funds are divided up between the two semesters, with half being deposited into the Resident Food Account before the fall semester and the other half before the spring semester. For a student on the Tier 1 plan, they would receive $750 in August and $750 in January.

Where does the revenue from food sales go?

University Housing is a self-funded, not-for-profit operation at UW-Madison. Revenue from food sales goes towards improving the quality of our services and facilities, staff training, wages, ingredients, keeping prices down, and ensuring that our menus and food offerings are inclusive to all students.

What happens if money is left over at the end of the school year?

Students will have the ability to carry over unused meal plan funds on their Resident Food Account to the next academic year. These funds will remain available for on-campus dining until a student graduates or officially separates from UW-Madison.

Dietary Needs

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What can you offer a student with food allergies, vegetarian diets, or other special dietary needs?

Dining and Culinary Services is committed to meeting the needs of all of our students. We have a Registered Dietitian on staff who works with every student to ensure we can meet the needs of that student. Currently, we work with over 600 students to walk them through our Dining program and make each student and parent feel comfortable that we can meet their student’s needs. In the rare occurrence that we are not able to meet the needs of an individual student, our staff will review their case for exemption from the meal plan. (Request an exemption here.) We also have one Dining location, Liz’s Market, which does not use tree nuts, peanuts, and shellfish as ingredients in any food items.

What can you offer a student with religious dietary requirements?

As with food allergens we strive to meet every student’s needs. We offer Halal options at all of our Dining Marketplaces, and our staff have been trained on how to handle these items. We also offer a selection of grab-and-go Kosher items that we procure from the Hillel House foodservice operation on campus. In the rare occurrence that we are not able to meet the needs of an individual student, our staff will review their case for exemption from the meal plan. (Request an exemption here.)

Will I find enough good food to eat in University Housing?

With a large selection of made-to-order items and over 15,000 recipes created by our on-staff chefs, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality food and variety. Many of our items are locally-sourced to use fresh, sustainable ingredients. In an April 2017 survey of 2,000 residents, our food service quality received an 82% satisfaction rating. Our food and dining options are consistently one of the top reasons students return to University Housing after their first year.

Will I find healthy food options in University Housing?

Our dining program participates in the Partnership for a Healthier America, to support our commitment to providing healthy eating choices. We also offer many vegetarian and vegan options across our dining locations and have Registered Dietitians on staff who can offer free consulting with students about diet and nutrition. Nutritional information is provided for all of our items on our website and line signs, including special icons to mark healthy choices and vegetarian selections.

How do I submit a request for an exemption?

In the rare occurrence that we are not able to meet the needs of an individual student, our staff will review their case for exemption from the dining plan. You can submit this request through this form. If you have additional questions, contact our office at (608) 262-0057 or

Submit an Exception Request


The Wiscard, your student ID, also serves as your primary way to pay for food in our dining markets, coffee shops, and convenience stores with the Resident Food Account.

In addition to the Resident Food Account, your Wiscard also has a general Wiscard account that can be used to purchase other things on campus, such as laundry services, printing, textbooks, school supplies, course packets, and food at some other on-campus locations. If you plan to purchase textbooks, school supplies, or course packets, with your Wiscard, we recommend an additional $300 – $400 per semester to cover these expenses.


You can deposit funds onto your Wiscard online, by mail, by phone, or in person. Your purchases will be deducted from your Wiscard account at the register, and your account balance will be shown on the receipt. You can check your balance online any time at the Wiscard account management site.


Money in the Resident Food Account is not transferable. However, unused money in this account automatically carries forward from semester to semester. Students may request a refund of unused money when they separate from the University.

Money added to the general Wiscard account automatically carries forward from semester to semester as long as students, faculty, and staff are enrolled or have a valid appointment at UW-Madison, or until a Close Account and Refund Form is submitted to the Wiscard Office.

Lost Wiscards

Losing a Wiscard should be handled with the same urgency as losing a credit or debit card. Immediately suspend the Wiscard, which will disable it at most locations across campus and not allow anyone else to use it. Wiscard users may also contact the Wiscard Office at 608-262-3258 to deactivate the card.

Contacting other campus organizations about the loss of a Wiscard, including the UW-Madison Police DepartmentLibraries, and Recreational Sports is strongly recommended. Deactivating a Wiscard will disable Housing residents’ access to their hall and floor. Residence hall desks may issue a loaner key/card to provide Housing residents temporary access to their hall, floor, and Housing dining locations for a period of four days.

A new Wiscard can be obtained at the Wiscard Office for a $25 charge. Housing residents must then have their building access restored at their hall’s desk.

Credit Cards

Housing residents can also pay with a credit card at Housing dining locations. However, these payment methods do not qualify for the 30% discount on prepared food and 10% discount on pre-packaged food for Housing residents. They also do not qualify for the student sales tax exemption, and they do not apply towards the minimum dining spend.