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University employees can choose from two retirement options:  403(b) and/or 457(b) investments options with TIAA-CREF and Fidelity Investments or a defined benefit plan available through the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (APERS).

All employees on the university payroll are eligible to participate in an unmatched 403(B) on a voluntary basis, and Roth 403(b) (defined contribution plan). If you are not in a benefits-eligible role you will not receive any employer contributions to your retirement plan but you can make voluntary unmatched contributions.  You may select TIAA-CREF and/or Fidelity Investments (defined contribution plan) for your retirement plan options. Defined contribution plan does not pay a specific benefit when you retire, and your retirement benefit is dependent on the earnings or losses of your investments.  Within the IRS limits, you may enroll, end, increase, decrease or suspend your contributions at any time.

For TIAA/CREF and/or Fidelity, the University will contribute an amount equal to five percent of your regular salary to your retirement account. In addition, the University will match your own contribution, up to ten percent. This means that, if you contribute nothing, the University contributes five percent. If you contribute six percent, the University contributes six percent. If you contribute seven percent, the University contributes seven percent, and so on, up to ten percent. If you contribute more than ten percent, the University will still contribute ten percent. You may elect to make your retirement contributions in pre-tax dollars, by completing a salary reduction agreement that designates the percentage of your regular salary you choose to contribute to your retirement account. That amount will be credited to your retirement account before federal and state taxes are deducted. Contributions are subject to limitations under the Internal Revenue Service code, contact the Human Resources Department for more information.

You may contribute to your 403(b) plan in one of two ways:         

  1.  Pre-tax: Retirement contributions are deducted from you salary before state and federal taxes are calculated, and your taxes are based on your income after your retirement contribution.  Pre-tax retirement contributions and their attributable earnings are taxed the year you withdraw them, deferring federal and state taxes until withdrawal.
  2.  After tax (Roth):  Retirement contributions are made after the applicable taxes have been deducted from our salary.  Therefore, contributions are not taxed when they are withdrawn, although any retirement earnings will be taxed in the year they are withdrawn.

With TIAA-CREF and Fidelity Investments, benefits from both your and the University's contributions are vested immediately if you are a faculty member or a non-classified staff member, or if you are a classified staff member whose initial employment was before January 1, 1985 and you made any contributions prior to that date. For classified employees, effective January 1, 2014 employee vesting occurs after one year of employment.

Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (APERS) is a defined benefit plan.  It pays a specific amount per month at retirement based on a formula that takes into account years of service and final average salary.  Once you elect to participate in the defined benefit plan, you may not choose to participate in the defined contribution plans, TIAA-CREF and/or Fidelity Investments, in the future.  However, if you participate in APERS, you can make unmatched contributions to TIAA-CREF and/or Fidelity Investments.

The Arkansas Contribution Program Act 2084 of 2005 requires that all APERS participants be in the contributory plan.  Contributory means that both the employee and the employer contributes to the plan. Plan contribution are:

  1.  Effective July 1, 2015- University contributions, 14.50% (subject to change per legislative decision).
  2. Required employee tax deferred contributions, 5%.

Past non-contributory service with APERS may make you eligible to continue participating in the APERS non-contributory plan at the university.  Non-contributory means that the employee does not contribute to APERS, but still receives the employer APERS contribution.  Your expected pension with the non-contributory plan is less than the contributory plan.  Contact APERS if you think you qualify to participate in the non-contributory plan.

You are vested after five years of participation in the APERS plan.  If you leave employment either with the university or other APERS covered employment before your APERS service is vested, you will not be eligible for a pension, but you will refunded the 5% you contributed.  Contact APERS for more information.

TIAA CREF Online Enrollment

Fidelity Investments Online Enrollment

Salary Deferral Agreement Form