Mason Family Flash

Textbooks, waitlists and meal plans: Your questions answered

Students in Southside Dining HallWhether you are preparing to send your student to college for the first or last time this fall, it is normal to have questions about the transition. To help answer some of your most frequently asked questions, we have highlighted some trending topics below:

 How will my student know which textbooks to buy, and where should they buy them?
Students can visit the University Bookstore online or in person in the Johnson Center on the Fairfax campus to find out what materials are required for each class. Mason’s Barnes and Noble Bookstore price matches, and local competitors to ensure your student gets the best deal on textbooks.

For most materials, students have the option to rent or buy new or used textbooks. Renting or buying used versions usually help to cut costs. More information about textbook rentals is available on the Rental FAQs webpage. When purchasing or renting materials online, your student has the option to ship to their address, or arrange pick-up at the on-campus bookstore. More information about payment, shipping and delivery options is available on the Payment & Delivery webpage. 

What happens if my student is waitlisted for a class?
If your student is waitlisted for a course, they should check their waitlist status daily in anticipation of an override that would allow them to register for the course. Waitlist overrides are issued as students drop from classes. When an override is granted, an automated email from the Registrar’s Office will be sent to your student’s Mason email address. Once an override is granted, students will only have 72 hours to register for the course. Learn how to register with the waitlist override at

Some important reminders about waitlist procedures:

  • Not all courses offer a waitlist.
  • Your student’s waitlist position does not guarantee issuance of a waitlist override.
  • The last waitlist overrides are issued three days before the semester begins.
  • All waitlists are purged on the first day of the semester.

For more information about waitlists, visit

Which meal plan is best for my student?
Choosing a meal plan will depend on whether your student lives on or off campus, and if your student has access to a full kitchen or not. Check out the tips and videos listed below, as well as the important meal plan dates and times and FAQs on the Mason Dining website at

For your on-campus student
For freshmen and sophomores living on campus without a full kitchen in their room, the Independence Plan is a great option. This plan gives students unlimited access to all three dining halls on the Fairfax campus and includes additional bonus dollars that can be used at any of the on-campus retail dining locations.

The Liberty Plan is designed for juniors and seniors, and includes a designated number of meal swipes for dining halls and a set amount of flex dollars that can be used at all on-campus dining locations.

–> Watch this video to help your on-campus student choose a meal plan:

For your off-campus student
The Patriot Plan and Freedom Plan are additional meal plans available to meet the needs of students who live off campus. These meal plans feature tax-free dollars to be used at on-campus dining locations.

–> Watch this video to help your off-campus student choose a meal plan:

While transitioning to college and for the duration of your student’s time at Mason, Orientation and Family Programs and Services is here to serve as a centralized resource for you. If you have additional questions, or if we can help in any way, call (703) 993-2475 or send an email to

Rebecca Stauffacher
Assistant Director of Family Programs
Orientation and Family Programs and Services