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University of Arkansas Retirement Plan

University Retirement Plan:

The University assists employees in planning for life beyond their working years with generous and flexible retirement benefits.  All benefits-eligible employees are required to participate in the UA Retirement Plan.  The UA Retirement Plan consists of 403(b) and/or 457(b) investment options with Teachers Insurance Annuity Association (TIAA) & College Retirement Equalities Fund (CREF) and/or Fidelity Investments.  Benefits-eligible employees must contribute a mandatory percentage of their pay from 1% to 5% according to the plan year minimum limits.  Each July, the mandatory employee pretax contribution will increase 1% until it reaches 5% in July 2020.  The University will match your combined mandatory and voluntary contribution of 6% - 10%.  Employees have 31 days from the beginning date of employment to enroll in the retirement plan.  Non benefit eligible employees may participate, but the University does not match their contributions.  Employee contributions are 100% vested immediateley.  University (employer) contributions are vested if the employee completes 24 consecutive months of employment.  Employees not vested when they leave University employment forfeit any University employer contributions made to their retirement plan.

Retirement Plans for Employees with Federal Benefits:

Until 2003, certain non-classified employees who joined the UA Cooperative Extension Service enjoyed a special federal appointment status through the United States Department of Agriculture called “Schedule A appointment”. This special status allowed them to participate in federal benefit plans. Although federal Schedule A appointments ended in 2003, UA Extension employees formerly on federal Schedule A appointment maintained their University appointment status and were allowed to retain certain federal benefits and retirement plans (CSRS, CSRS Offset, and FERS).

The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) is a defined benefit, contributory retirement system.  Employees share in funding the annuities to which they become entitled. Cooperative Extension matches the employee's CSRS contributions. CSRS is a closed plan that does not accept new participants.

Certain Extension employees participate in the CSRS Offset Plan. Under the CSRS Offset Plan, the employee receives full CSRS benefits until eligible for Social Security benefits. At that time, the employee’s CSRS benefit is offset by the Social Security benefit. CSRS Offset is also a closed retirement plan.

The Federal Employee’s Retirement System (FERS) is a retirement plan that provides benefits from three different sources: aBasic Benefit Plan, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The employee pays a share of the Basic Benefit and Social Security parts of FERS each pay period through payroll deduction. Cooperative Extension also pays its share.