Retirement Plans - Active Employees
Required Participation in Plans
University of Idaho employees participate in the following plans, based on eligibility. Employees contribute to PERSI, ORP, Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System. These contributions are made through payroll deduction on a pre-tax basis. The University of Idaho policy on the retirement plans can be found the Faculty-Staff Handbook, Section 3730.
The Idaho State Board of Education requires participation in the retirement plans as follows:
- Classified Employees are required to participate in PERSI
- Faculty and non-faculty exempt employees are required to participate in ORP
- Faculty and non-faculty exempt employees that elected to remain with PERSI when the ORP was initially rolled out and new employees that are already VESTED with PERSI (either from a previous position with the university or from a prior employer) can choose to continue contributing to PERSI.
Classified staff and temporary hourly employees working 20 hours/week for five or more months are eligible for PERSI benefits. Faculty and Non-Faculty Exempt employees who elected to remain in PERSI when the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) was first rolled out and those that are already vested with PERSI may continue to contribute to PERSI rather than enrolling in the ORP. PERSI enrollment is automatic for all classified employees and is effective beginning their first pay period.
- Employee contributions: 7.16 percent (Effective July 1, 2019)
- University contributions: 11.94 percent (Effective July 1, 2019)
Employees are vested after 5 years (60 months)
The 1990 state legislature established the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) for faculty and non-faculty exempt staff. This is a mandatory retirement program. The ORP is a defined contribution plan and is administered by Teachers’ Insurance Annuity Association (TIAA) and Variable Annuity Life Insurance Corporation (VALIC).
- Employee contribution: 6.97 percent
- University contribution: 9.255 percent (Effective July 7, 2013)
Employees are immediately vested upon enrollment.
Characteristics of Plans
Both administrators offer diverse investment options for eligible employees. Membership is portable with any other higher education institution offering retirement plans through TIAA or VALIC. Eligibility requirements and benefits are governed by the ORP plan document that can be found on the Idaho State Board of Education Finance and Administration website.
Disability Protection with the ORP
The University of Idaho purchases a retirement deposit protection policy from The Standard Insurance Company that, if approved, continues your retirement deposits in the event of a disability. Your online pay records will reflect the university's contribution for this coverage as ORD.
Supplemental tax sheltered retirement plans are available to benefit-eligible employees. Contributions are not matched by the university, but they are deducted before income taxes and deposited each pay period with the provider or providers chosen by the employee. Changes to contribution amounts can be made at any time by completing and submitting a new salary reduction form.
- Salary Reduction Authorization Form
Vendor List (Once the employee has enrolled with one of the vendors, he or she needs to complete the Supplemental 'Salary Reduction Authorization Form' and return to Payroll or Benefit Services.)
PERSI Choice plans are defined contribution plans available to PERSI participants that are board-appointed or temporary employees working 20 hour/week for 5+ months. The contribution limit for calendar year 2020 is $19,500, with an additional $6,500 for “catch up contributions” for employees age 50 or over. This limit is shared with 403(b) accounts. For more information and enrollment forms, please visit the PERSI website.
The 403(b) plans are defined contribution plans available to all benefit eligible employees through a select group of vendors (see list above). Once the employee has established a vendor account, he or she needs to submit a completed Supplemental Retirement Salary Reduction Form to Payroll and Benefit Services. The contribution limit for calendar year 2020 is $19,500, with an additional $6,500 for “catch up contributions” for employees age 50 or over. This limit is shared with 401(k) accounts.
The 457(b) is a non-qualified deferred compensation plan that is available to all benefit eligible employees through a select group of vendors (see list above). The contribution limit for calendar year 2020 is $19,500, with an additional $6,500 for “catch up contributions” for employees age 50 or over. This limit is separate from 401(k)/403(b) accounts.
The Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System are defined benefit plans available only to those Cooperative Extension employees who transferred to Idaho from another agency where they were enrolled in a civil service or federal employees retirement plan. Eligibility requirements and benefits are governed by the federal government plan document and applicable federal regulations. Please refer to the government retirement website for further details.
Other Post-Employment Benefits FAQ
In March 2020, changes were made to the post-employment retirement benefits of employees at University of Idaho.
- Tier I benefits remain unchanged.
- Pre-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for Tiers II and III.
- Post-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for Tiers II and III, for those already retired or eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021.
- Post-Medicare benefits will be phased out by the end of 2023 for those in Tier II and Ill not eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021.
- Pre-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for Tier IV.
- Post-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for those in Tier IV who are already retired or eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021.
- Post-Medicare benefits will end for those in Tier IV not eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021, at the end of 2023.
- Tier IV will be closed for employees hired after June 30, 2020.
These changes were made to improve the university’s financial position. A change in accounting standards required the university to recognize the value of post-employment benefits on the balance sheet (the value of those benefits was $33 million in FY 2018). This combined with an operating loss caused the university to be unable to maintain the 5% reserve required by the Idaho State Board of Education. The changes will reduce that liability by $11 million.
No. Current retirees are not impacted by these changes.
No. Tier I employees are not impacted by these changes.
No. All Tier II employees are eligible to retire by the deadline and therefore not impacted.
No. The university is not changing any pre-Medicare benefits for any tier. However, all plans are subject to changes with each new plan year.
Retirees eligible for sick leave conversion may use accumulated sick leave to purchase months of coverage on the U of I healthcare plan. More detail can be found in FSH 3730 C-7-c.
These changes align U of I with what most peer institutions offer.