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Retirement Programs

Retirement Plans

The university provides two types of retirement to choose from:

  • The Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) - a defined benefit plan where retirement benefits are computed under a formula which uses the average of the member’s highest five consecutive years of salary (while a member of TCRS) and the years of service credited in TCRS.
  • The Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) – a defined contribution retirement plan, where retirement benefits are based on the member’s account balance and the member’s age at the time benefits begin.

The Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS)

Who’s Eligible To Participate in TCRS?

  • Regular full-time and regular part-time faculty, administrative/professional, and clerical/support employees may participate in TCRS.

Distinguishing Features of TCRS

  • Contributions – the member makes no contributions to the plan. The employer pays both the employee and employer costs for funding the benefits.
  • Transfer – faculty and administrative/professional employees who elected to participate in TCRS may make a one time election to transfer membership from TCRS to the ORP.
  • Transfers Outside Tennessee’s Plans – employees who joined TCRS after July 1, 1981, may not transfer their TCRS account to another employer’s plan or to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
  • Vesting – employees are vested after 5 years of full-time service
  • Creditable Service – members may earn service credit in TCRS for service with the state of Tenn., the public school systems in Tenn., or over 300 political subdivisions in Tenn., which have elected to participate. 
    • Vested members may also establish credit in TCRS for up to four years of eligible military service.
    • Sick leave – unused sick leave may be converted to retirement service credit at the rate of one month of service credit for each 20 days of leave.
  • Service retirement – vested members become eligible for service retirement upon completion of 30 years of creditable service or upon attainment of age 60 and having vested.
  • Early retirement – a member with 10 years of service may retire at age 55; however, there is a permanent reduction in the member’s retirement benefit
  • Ordinary disability retirement benefits are available to members with 5 years of creditable service, regardless of where the member is employed at the time the disability occurs.
  • Refer to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement Handbook for more detailed information
  • Contact Angie Judish, Human Resources, ext. 7013

Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

Who’s Eligible to Participate in the ORP?

  • Regular full-time and regular part-time faculty and administrative/professional employees are eligible to participate in this plan.

Distinguishing Features of the ORP

  • Faculty, administrative/professional employees may choose between membership in TCRS and membership in the Optional Retirement Program (ORP).
  • There are three companies under contract with the state to provide annuities for the program: ING, TIAA-CREF, and AIG-VALIC. The employee can participate in one, two, or all three and can transfer between companies.
  • Contributions – the member makes no contributions to the plan. The University contributes 10% of gross salary covered by Social Security and 11% of salary in excess of the Social Security Wage Base.
  • Vesting – all contributions made to the plan are 100% vested from the date of contribution.
  • Creditable Service – benefits are based on the member’s account balance rather than on service.  Contributions are credited to the member’s account during service to a Tenn., higher education institution while a member of the ORP.
  • Funds may be moved among the different investment options offered under the company’s annuity contract.
  • Death Benefits – the value of the total accumulation is payable to  the named beneficiary or the estate.  If the value of the accumulation is sufficiently large, the beneficiary may be eligible to elect an annuity payout.

Questions Regarding Coverage

  • Refer to your TIAA-CREF, ING, and AIG-VALIC retirement packets for more detailed information.
  • Contact Angie Judish, Human Resources, ext. 7013