Optional Retirement Program (ORP)
ORP is a defined contribution plan governed by Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b). Annuity at the time of retirement is based on the performance of investment funds. The employee is vested and gains the employer contribution after one year and one day of ORP participation. Federal tax law prohibits 403(b) plans from providing disability benefits.
Eligibility is strictly determined by the job you perform 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.
Here are a few examples of ORP eligible positions:
- Faculty members whose duties include teaching and/or research as a principal activity
- Faculty administrators responsible for teaching and research faculty
- Full-time Postdoctoral Fellows and Harrington Fellows
- 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
Job positions eligible for ORP is referenced in a few locations to include; the applicant job postings, offer of employment notification, and departmental HRMS processing for internal promotions or reclassification. Employees are welcome to contact their HR Benefits Specialist to determine whether they are eligible for ORP.
The Human Resources Benefits Office will send notification of ORP eligibility to employees upon initial eligibility. Employees will have a 90 day enrollment window to elect ORP. The decision to enroll in ORP is a once in a lifetime, irrevocable decision. Employees who fail to meet all ORP enrollment steps prior to the deadline will continue participation with TRS.
Important Note: ORP participants that transition to a non-ORP eligible job title without meeting the vesting guidelines, will be placed in the TRS program indefinitely. There will not be an opportunity to return to ORP participation for the duration of any Texas Public Higher Education employment.
ORP contributions are pre-tax and made through payroll deduction. Contribution rates are set by the Texas Legislature. The participant and employer contributions are listed below:
To enroll in ORP, all steps must be completed before the 90 day enrollment deadline:
- Choose your provider(s) from the currently authorized provider list.
- Open an account with your approved provider. Vendor account opening can be completed online or through paper enrollment documents per vendor guidelines.
- Log onto UT Retirement Manager and click on “I’m a New User” to register, and then set up ORP payroll contributions.
- Complete TRS Form 28 (Notice to Elect to Participate in Optional Retirement Program). Turn in the original, signed and notarized TRS 28 Form to the HR Benefits Office.
- If you choose to decline enrollment into ORP, you must complete the ORP Acknowledgement Form prior to the enrollment deadline and return to the HR Benefits office. You will remain a TRS participant for the duration of your career in Texas Public Higher Education.