Retirement Savings Benefits FAQs
Retirement Savings Basics for Faculty, Staff and Student Workers
Why am I in the 401(k) Plan and not the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan 403(b)?
If you are a non-resident alien or not a permanent resident of the United States, then you are enrolled in the 401(k) plan.
What are the eligibility requirements for each plan?
There are many eligibility requirements for each plan type. Please visit the Retirement Savings page on the Human Resources website for more information.
Can I move to the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan 403(b) now that I am a U.S. citizen?
Please contact the HR Service Center to request the change.
Where are my funds invested if I do not specify?
Your funds are automatically deposited into a Target Date Fund at TIAA based on your age.
How do I know what my investment options are?
Should I select pre-tax or Roth contributions?
Please reference Understanding Traditional vs. Roth Contributions [pdf] for more information. The HR Service Center cannot give specific tax or investment advice. If you have questions regarding which investment you should choose, you may want to schedule a counseling session with a TIAA representative. You can also view Roth account information on the IRS website.
I plan on retiring soon. What do I need to do?
For retirement savings guidance, please set up a one-on-one meeting with TIAA as soon as possible. You can also view the Retirement page of the Human Resources website for more information on preparing for retirement from the university.
I am leaving the university. How do I get access to my money after I leave?
Contact TIAA to set up a one-on-one meeting with a representative or call the HR Service Center to request a distribution form.
Can I meet with someone to get advice on how I should be investing my retirement savings?
Please visit the Retirement Education page of the Human Resources website to set up a one-on-one meeting or phone consultation with a representative.
Retirement Savings Contributions for Faculty, Staff and Student Workers
How do I change my employee contribution rate?
Refer to the Retirement Elections System Guide [pdf] for instructions on changing your employee contribution.
When will my changes be effective?
The earliest is the first of month coinciding with or following the date the election is made in Workday. Employees can indicate a future date of the first of the next month (i.e., if you change your rate from 5% to 10% on March 5, the change will be effective April 1).
I want to contribute $X.XX per month. What percentage should I use?
You can elect to contribute up to 100% of your pay. To calculate the percentage contribution rate, divide $X.XX (the amount per month) by your base monthly pay.
- Example 1: I want $100 per month out of my monthly pay of $5,000. $100/$5000 = .02 or 2%
- Example 2: I want $50 per biweekly pay of $1,000. $50/$1000 = .05 or 5%
What percentage should I use if I want to max out my contributions?
This depends on when you are making the change (first of year, mid-year, etc.). Divide the maximum contribution amount by the number of months until the end of the year. Divide that number by your monthly gross pay to get your contribution percentage. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact the HR Service Center.
My job is short term. Why are you bothering to put in university contributions if I will not be here for three years?
Qualified employer plans are required to follow the plan rules for eligibility. If you have prior service from another university you may have credit towards vesting. If so, please complete the Prior Service Credit Request Form [pdf] and return the form to the HR Service Center.
Will my other payroll deductions come out before my retirement contribution? What if I do not have enough funds left to cover everything?
Health/welfare benefits and parking come out first, then employee contributions to retirement. If there is not enough in a pay period to cover all of your elected contributions, then only what is available is deducted for retirement.
I am a part-time employee. When I meet my vesting hours, will I get a lump sum amount contributed retroactively back to my anniversary date?
Yes, but only if you are eligible for the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan. If you are eligible for the 401(k) Plan, you will be enrolled going forward with a contribution end date of the last day of the current year.
Retirement Savings Vesting, Rollovers and Withdrawals for Faculty and Staff Only
What are the vesting requirements for my supplemental contributions and my university contributions?
Employee contributions are always 100% vested. University contributions (contributions made on your behalf by CMU) are subject to a three-years-of-service vesting requirement. If you have any questions regarding the vesting requirement, please contact the HR Service Center.
Will TIAA’s website tell me if I am vested?
No. The Office of Human Resources retirement team calculates vesting dates.
Will I get credit toward vesting if I worked here before? If so, do I need to take any steps to get that credit?
Yes. Please be sure to note that you were previously employed by CMU or contact the HR Service Center to have that information updated.
Do I get credit toward vesting if I worked at another university or non-profit? How do I get that credit?
Yes. Please complete the Prior Service Credit Request Form [pdf] and return the form to the HR Service Center.
How do I roll over money from a previous employer’s plan?
Please refer to the Investment Options page of the Human Resources website for basic instructions on how to complete the rollover. You can then contact the HR Service Center to begin the process.
How do I withdraw money from a CMU plan?
If you wish to roll over your money from a CMU plan to another plan, or take any form of distribution (in-service or termination), contact TIAA to request the necessary paperwork.** If you still have questions after reviewing the Rollovers and Distributions section of the Human Resources website, please contact the HR Service Center.
**If TIAA states that they do not have a termination (separation) date yet, inform them that you have been separated and you can receive the distribution paperwork without TIAA having a termination (separation) date on file. Once you complete the paperwork you must send it to TIAA directly. TIAA will get approval for the distribution and vesting if needed.