What should my declining balance be?

As of today, there are days till the end of Spring Quarter 2017.

Residence Hall Students

Starting balance: $

Apartment Students

Starting balance: $

Targeted balance:

Targeted balance:

Targeted balance based on 87 days in Fall Quarter, September 14, 2017 – December 10, 2017. Calculated per second.


Eating meals on campus is always a popular topic among incoming freshman. And for good reason: students love food and want to make the most of their declining balance. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, fruitarian, kosher, paleo, pescatarian, omnivore, foodie or food agnostic there are many different ways to maximize your dining plan on the Cal Poly campus.

The math of eating on campus.

The total cost of the dining plan for a student living in a residence hall is $5,323, and for a student living in an on-campus apartment residence the cost is $4,259. In translation, students have about $130 per week to buy food. There are 22 different dining venues on campus including two markets, three food trucks and more than 1,000 options to choose from. Budgeting is often the most difficult part of the dining plan to manage. Here is a declining balance chart to give students something to guide them.

Are you a splurger or a hoarder?

When students are given $1,400 all at once, it can be easy to splurge too much too quickly, and they may find their declining balance account dwindling by the end of the quarter. Others may have hundreds left by the end of the third quarter and not know how they will be able to spend all of the remaining money by the end of the year. Although the balance does roll over from quarter to quarter, it expires on June 18 and cannot roll over to the next academic year.

Budgeting Tips

Students can keep up to date on their balance through the Cal Poly portal. They can also swipe their PolyCard at any register at any campus dining operation to see their remaining balance.

Check Balance at Mycalpoly

Too low balance

Students who's balance is nearing 0 can add money to their Campus Express account, which they can use at any dining venue. They can access Campus Express dining programs through the Money Matters tab on the Cal Poly portal.

Too high balance

Students who find themselves with a large remaining balance can use the funds in Campus Market and Village Market to stock up on grocery items like snacks, drinks and personal items. They can also purchase Cal Poly products like chocolate, jam and BBQ sauce, which make great gifts to bring home. Another idea is to take a friend who has a low declining balance out for a meal.