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University of Arkansas Retirement Plan

The 403(b)/457(b) Retirement Plan

The 403(b)/457(b) Retirement Plan is a defined contribution retirement plan. The University and the employee make regularly scheduled contributions to an account set up in each participating employee’s name. The employee is required to contribute a mandatory 5% of their regular salary. Mandatory employee contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, providing the employee with savings on federal and state income tax by lowering the employee’s taxable income.  Each account’s value depends on the amounts the employer and/or employee contributes, and investment gains or losses on those contributions. The University contributes 5% of an employee’s regular salary automatically to the 403(b). 

If the employee elects to voluntary contribute more than 5% of their regular salary (pre-tax or after-tax Roth), the University will match the contribution, dollar-for-dollar, up to 10% of the employee’s regular salary.

The employee can invest the money in their Retirement Plan through TIAA or Fidelity.  Employees may change their vendor plan option at any time between TIAA or Fidelity, but may not be enrolled in both options simultaneously.   

Employees may keep the money in their account in the event they leave the University. Or, transfer the vested portion (the money the employee owns) to another tax-qualified retirement savings plan. The vested portion is always the employee’s.

Defined Benefit Plans

The University no longer participates in the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (APERS) or the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System (ARTRS). If you were employed by the University and were a participant in either plan before the University stopped participating, you were allowed to continue participating.

If you transfer from one University of Arkansas campus to another and were participating in APERS at your prior campus, you can elect to participate in APERS at your new campus. Note: A transfer is defined as a break in service of 30 days or less. You cannot remain in ARTRS if you transfer campuses.

Retirement Options for APERS, ARTRS and Non-Benefits-Eligible Employees

If you are a non-benefits-eligible University employee or enrolled with APERS or ARTRS, you can voluntarily participate in the 403(b) Retirement Plan. The University will not contribute to your account. Contributions can be pre-tax or after-tax. You can participate through TIAA and/or Fidelity.

Contact your campus Human Resources for a form to elect contributions or make changes to your account(s). When enrolling for the first time, you must complete an application with TIAA and/or Fidelity.


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.