Retirement Program Options

Mandatory Retirement Programs

UT Austin employees who work at least 20 hours per week for 18 weeks or longer during the September 1 - August 31 fiscal year are required to contribute to a retirement plan. There are two mandatory retirement program options, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), and the Optional Retirement Program (ORP). 

Employees whose jobs require student status as a condition of employment are exempt from this requirement and are not eligible to participate in the university's mandatory retirement programs. They may, however, choose to enroll in the university's UTSaver voluntary retirement programs. 

Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)

Overview

  • Defined Benefit Plan as described in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 401(a)
  • Employees contribute 8.00% (increasing to 8.25% on September 1, 2023) of their eligible earnings on a pre-tax basis each pay period and UT contributes an additional 8.00%
  • TRS monitors/controls investments
  • Employees vest after five years of participation with a right to a lifetime annuity
  • Retirement benefits are based on years of service, salary, and actuarial formula
  • Provides a disability benefit

Eligibility

Employees who meet the following eligibility criteria are eligible for and required to participate in TRS:

  • Employees who work or who are expected to work at least 20 hours or more per week for 18 weeks or more during the September 1 – August 31 fiscal year;
  • Employees who are currently contributing to TRS at another TRS eligible employer, regardless of the number of hours worked at UT Austin; and
  • Employees who have already received TRS service credit for the current fiscal year, regardless of the number of hours worked at UT Austin.

Employees whose jobs require student status as a condition of employment are exempt from these requirements and are not eligible to participate. 

Enrollment

Eligible employees will be automatically enrolled in TRS as of their first day of employment or eligibility. 

Additional Information

For more information about TRS, please review the Welcome to Membership video available on TRS’ Member Education Videos webpage, and the TRS Benefits Handbook.

Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

Overview

  • Available to employees in certain jobs in lieu of TRS
  • 403(b) Defined Contribution Plan
  • Employees contribute 6.65% of their eligible earnings on a pre-tax basis each pay period and UT contributes an additional 8.5% match
  • Employees manage their own investments
  • Employees vest after one year and one day of participation with a right to employer matching contributions
  • Account growth is based on performance of selected investment portfolio
  • Decision to participate is a once in a lifetime, irrevocable decision

Eligibility

Eligibility is strictly determined by the job an employee performs and is not based on years of service or salary level. To be eligible to participate in ORP, an employee must: (1) initially be appointed on a full-time basis for four and one-half months or more; and (2) be appointed to a position otherwise eligible to participate in ORP.

The following positions are generally ORP-eligible (See the UT System ORP Plan Document for more detailed definitions):

  • Faculty members whose duties include teaching and/or research as a principal activity
  • Faculty administrators responsible for teaching and research faculty
  • Professional librarians
  • Chief and senior administrative officials
  • Specialized professional positions (such as physicians, engineers, and attorneys)
  • Athletic coaches and directors
  • Counselors treated in the same manner as faculty

Enrollment

Employees in jobs eligible to elect ORP in lieu of TRS will receive an eligibility notice via email and Docusign within three weeks of their initial eligibility date. Employees who wish to enroll in the ORP will then have until the 90th day following their date of hire or eligibility to complete all of the following enrollment steps:   

  1. Read through the Docusign document carefully.
  2. Complete the ORP Acknowledgement Form in Docusign. This acknowledges that the employee has been notified of their eligibility to participate in ORP. It is not an enrollment form.
  3. Review the Overview of TRS and ORP document.
  4. Choose one or more financial providers from the list of approved providers
  5. Open an account with the provider(s) selected. For assistance, please contact the local representative(s) for the provider(s).   
  6. Log into UT Retirement Manager, choose ORP, and follow the prompts to set up the contributions from eligible pay. For assistance, review the Retirement Manager Reference Video.
  7. Submit a signed and notarized TRS Form 28 (Notice to Elect to Participate in Optional Retirement Program).  The TRS Form 28 is included in the DocuSign document and must be printed, completed, signed, notarized, and returned to UT’s Human Resources – Benefits and Leave Management office. For your convenience, notaries may be found in multiple departments across campus. 

Employees who fail to complete any one of the above steps prior to their 90-day enrollment deadlines will remain enrolled in TRS for the duration of their careers in Texas higher education. 

Additional Information

For more information about ORP, please review the Overview of TRS and ORP and the UT System ORP Plan Document.

UTSaver Voluntary Retirement Programs

Most Americans now anticipate living long past their traditional retirement age, which could stretch their retirement income over a span of several decades. Given the current strain on social security, it has become increasingly important for employees to save more money on their own so that they will have the income needed to last throughout their years in retirement. The UTSaver Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) and Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) are designed to help employees do that.

Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA)

Overview

  • 403(b) plan offered by public schools and certain non-profits that is similar to a 401(k)
  • Employees may contribute as little as $15 per month, or as much as 100% of their eligible compensation up to $20,500 (for 2022). There are also two catch up provisions:
    • Age 50 Catch Up – Those 50 and older may contribute and additional $6,500
    • 15 Years of Service Catch Up – Those with 15 years of UT System service whose previous deferrals into the UTSaver TSA have averaged less than $5,000 per year may defer up to an additional $3,000 per year. The additional deferral may not exceed a lifetime maximum of $15,000.
  • All contributions are employee funded and conveniently taken through payroll deduction.
  • Contributions may be made on a pre-tax “traditional” or post-tax “Roth” basis.
  • Retirement benefits are based on years of service, salary, and actuarial formula
  • Distributions permitted upon:
    • Reaching age 59.5
    • Birth or Adoption
    • Death
    • Disability
    • Financial Hardship (except for those enrolled in the ORP)
    • Separation from employment
  • Distributions from “traditional” accounts made prior to age 59.5 will be subject to ordinary taxation and a possible 10% penalty
  • Non-qualified distributions from “Roth” accounts made prior to age 59.5 will be subject to ordinary taxation and a possible 10% penalty

Eligibility

All Employees receiving pay from UT Austin are eligible to participate in the UTSaver TSA. This includes student employees, temporary employees, part-time employees, and return to work retirees.

Enrollment

To enroll in the UTSaver TSA, employees should:

Additional Information

For additional information about the UTSaver TSA, please review the Voluntary Programs as a Glance brochure. You may also contact the local representative(s) from one of the university’s five authorized retirement providers. 

Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP)

Overview

  • 457(b) plan offered by state or local governments and certain non-profits
  • Employees may contribute as little as $15 per month, or as much as 100% of their eligible compensation up to $20,500 (for 2022). There are also two catch up provisions:
    • Age 50 Catch Up – Those 50 and older may contribute and additional $6,500
    • Special Catch Up – If you are within three years of tax year in which you reach normal retirement age, then you may be able to contribute up to an additional $20,000 per year. Eligibility is dependent upon your unused elective deferrals for the prior years you were eligible to participate in the DCP and must be calculated by your benefits specialist. This catch up may not be used during the tax year in which you retire, may not be used simultaneously with the Age 50 Catch Up, or if you are age 70.5 or older.
  • All contributions are employee funded and conveniently taken through payroll deduction.
  • Contributions may be made on a pre-tax “traditional” or post-tax “Roth” basis.
  • Retirement benefits are based on years of service, salary, and actuarial formula
  • Distributions permitted upon:
    • Reaching age 59.5
    • Birth or Adoption
    • Death
    • Disability
    • Financial Hardship
    • Separation from employment
  • Distributions from “traditional” accounts will be subject to ordinary taxation and a possible 10% penalty
  • Non-qualified distributions from “Roth” accounts will be subject to ordinary taxation and a possible 10% penalty

Eligibility

All Employees receiving pay from UT Austin are eligible to participate in the UTSaver DCP. This includes student employees, temporary employees, part-time employees, and return to work retirees.

Enrollment

To enroll in the UTSaver DCP, employees should:

Additional Information

For additional information about the UTSaver TSA, please review the Voluntary Programs as a Glance brochure. You may also contact the local representative(s) from one of the university’s five authorized retirement providers.

The UTSaver Voluntary Retirement Programs also offer additional flexibility geared towards helping employees reach their retirement goals.

Traditional vs Roth Options

A traditional, pre-tax TSA or DCP allows a participant to reduce their taxable income by contributing to a tax-sheltered retirement savings account. No taxes are paid until the participant receives a distribution from the account. 

A post-tax Roth account allows a participant to pay taxes up front so that they usually do not have to at the time they receive a qualified distribution. For the distribution to be qualified, the participant must be over age 59.5, and the Roth account must have been open for at least five years.  Nonqualified distributions will be subject to ordinary taxation, and may also be subject to a 10% penalty tax. 

For additional information, review the Roth vs Traditional Retirement Plan presentation. 

Change Contributions at Any Time

Employees may start, stop, or change their contributions to the TSA and DCP by logging into UT Retirement Manager. For assistance, review the Retirement Manager Reference Video.

Employees may transfer their existing TSA and DCP accounts from one approved provider to another by contacting the local representative(s) for the receiving provider.

Defer Unused Annual Leave

Upon loss of leave eligibility, retirement, or separation employees may defer all, or a portion of their unused annual-leave payment to their TSA and DCP accounts, not to exceed their maximum contribution limits. To do so, employees must submit the Annual Leave Deferral Agreement (online) form no later than their last day of employment.

Loan and In-Service Distribution Options

Employees who participate in the UTSaver TSA and DCP plans may be able to access the funds in their accounts while employed for the following reasons:

  • Reaching age 59.5
  • Birth or Adoption
  • Financial Hardship

For more information, review the UTSaver Loan and In-Service Distribution Options brochure.

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