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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do we have to have a meal plan if we have special dietary needs and have to cook our own meals?

If you have any special dietary needs due to an allergy, religious belief or any other reason, you must contact Student Accessibility Services. If you just have a question or a concern, you can email us at for more information or to request a meeting.

  1. Do we have to have a meal plan if we live off campus?

If you are a Heritage Resident, you must select a meal plan. In addition to the 5 plans offered to everyone, Heritage Residents have a 6th plan that they are allowed to choose from.

All students may purchase a meal plan if they feel that it will help them to meet their dietary needs.

  1. What is the difference between “meal swipes” and “unlimited”?

Meal plan swipes are an access to an all you care to eat dining space where you eat as large of a meal as you want. Unlimited means a never ending number of meal plan swipes.

  1. If I buy the Mon-Fri unlimited plan and I have to be on campus on a weekend for midterms or finals can I use my plan or do I have to pay cash?

You would need to use your CAT flex dollars or pay with Cash, Credit, etc.

  1. If I run out of meal plan swipes can I buy more?

For the Any11, Any14 and Any17 plans meal plan swipes are refreshed each week, starting with Sunday. If you run out before Sunday, you can choose to upgrade your plan at a pro-rated price or use your guest passes. If you are frequently going through your swipes, you might want to consider upgrading your meal plan.

If you have unused swipes at the end of each week, those swipes do not roll over and are forfeited. Be sure to find the plan that best fits your needs.

To upgrade your plan at a pro-rated value, go to your Housing Portal. You can also use swipes donated by your peers via iCare.

  1. If I leave UC Merced will I be refunded my meal plan?

You will be issued a pro-rated refund if you are released from your room and board contract.

  1. What happens if I don’t use all of my swipes for the week?

You can donate your swipes to iCare or you lose them. Swipes are refreshed and loaded once a week.

  1. What will the charge be for a non-student to eat at the pavilion once it’s an all you care to eat facility?

Guests not on a meal plan are welcome to dine in at the Pavilion and can pay with CAT Dollars, cash, credit, etc. This includes anyone who is not a student as well (Staff, Faculty, visitors)

Breakfast - $8.95

Lunch - $11.95

Dinner - $12.95

Late Night - $9.95

  1. Can I take food to go at the Pavilion?

A selection of Grab & Go items will be available for guests to take with them to include fruit, snack, beverage and more.

  1. Can I use my swipes to pay for a guest?

No. Swipes are not transferrable. Use Guest Passes to pay for guests.

  1. How do I refund my CAT Dollars?

Visit the Cashier’s office next to the Student’s First Center to request a refund of your CAT Dollars at the time you are separating from the University.

  1. When would I be using Meal Plan Dollars or CAT Dollars at the Pavilion?

Priority ranking is Swipes, then Meal Plan Dollars, then CAT Dollars in that order. If you run out of Swipes, then the registers will automatically know to pull from your other Cat Card plans.

  1. Can I take my own container into the Pavilion and take food out of the building?

No, that is a production cost issue and also a food safety hazard. The only items you will be able to take out of the building will be items available from the Grab n’ Go menu.

  1. Can I make changes to my meal plan at any time?

If you would like to downgrade your meal plan, you must make those changes for the Fall 2019 semester before August 9th. After August 9th, if you would like to upgrade your meal plan, you can do so at any time via the Housing Portal.

  1. After I have changed my meal plan, how soon will the changes take effect?

Meal plans are uploaded on Saturdays, so if you make an adjustment by Thursday-12pm, the new meal plan will be reflected by Saturday.

  1. How will the changes to my meal plan be reflected on my bill?

Meal plans changes are pro-rated based on the additional cost and dates.

  1. How soon will I see the changes to my bill after I have selected a different meal plan?

After a meal plan has been changed, it will take 1-2 weeks for the changes to be reflected on my bill.


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