Declining Dollar$ Lose Value by Restricting Solely to On-Campus Use

Monmouth University currently has “declining dollars” available for students in their meal plans. Declining dollars can be used at a few areas on campus including Java City, the Student Center, Convenience Store, Jersey Mike’s, and Shadow’s. Different meal plans give different amounts of declining dollars. 

According to the University’s website, the Carte Blanche meal plan includes $50 worth of declining dollars, the 225-meal plan includes $90 worth of declining dollars, the 195-meal plan includes $95 worth of declining dollars, and the 105 meal plan includes $170 worth of declining dollars. 

What if Monmouth University developed a plan where declining dollars could be used at participating local businesses in West Long Branch such as Scala’s, Surf Taco, and Top It Frozen Yogurt? 

Many of these specific businesses already do offer a student discount, for example, Surf Taco gives students a 10 percent discount on their food purchase with a Monmouth ID. This is quite a deal for college kids looking to switch it up and eat off-campus on a budget. However, collaborating even furthermore by incorporating the University’s declining dollars within these local businesses could be even more beneficial to many students.

Steven’s Institute of Technology is a university located in Hoboken, NJ, that has implemented a plan similar to this where students can use “duckbills” at participating local businesses. 

According to Steven’s Institute of Technology’s website, “Duckbills are a prepaid, dollar for dollar, declining balance account housed on your Stevens ID Card that may be used to pay for purchases at participating on and off campus locations.  They are convenient, safe and fun to use.  Students, staff and faculty are all encouraged to use Duckbills for their purchases.” 

Melissa Murphy, a graduate from Steven’s Institute of Technical Institute, was asked to provide a comment on how she felt about the school providing Duckbills to the students. “Duckbills are the best part of the meal plan because of the amount of options it provides for the students! It provides the option to eat off campus, which is great because there were time where I didn’t want to eat what was provided that night, or the dining hall was closed but a few local businesses were still open. It provides a social aspect because you and your friends have the option to eat at a favorite place. Lastly, I could call my parents plead my case for needing a little extra cash and they could transfer duckbills onto to my student ID card instantly!”

Monmouth could look at this other nearby NJ educational institute as an inspiration and consider providing a similar opportunity to students here who purchase meal plans.

Changing declining dollars to serve off-campus eats is an easy modification that everyone can benefit from. Depending on which meal plan you purchase, a certain amount of  “hawk dollars” could be provided and from there could be easily added to a student’s ID card in three different ways: online card office, cash deposit station, and campus card office. 

Assuring a solid college experience by pairing with  local restaurants would be a beneficial change of the declining dollars in the current meal plan. 

By allowing students the option to purchase off campus meals within the student meal plan, it will broaden their dinning options while also supporting the local restaurants. This is a plan that all parties can see the benefit of.