Retirement Savings Options for VCU Employees

VCU employees have multiple options for making paycheck savings toward retirement.  For faculty, University and Academic Professionals, and classified staff, voluntary savings supplement the benefits provided by your mandatory state employee retirement plan (VRS or ORP). For others, voluntary savings can help you meet your retirement goals along with any other retirement savings you have through other employers or institutions. This entry explains basic information about the voluntary retirement savings plans available to VCU employees.  We hope that you find this information helpful.

All employees of Virginia Commonwealth University (faculty, staff, adjunct, hourly, postdoctoral, graduate assistant, student worker) who receive paychecks and W-2s from VCU are eligible to make voluntary savings in the following plans:

VCU 403(b) Tax Deferred Annuity:  A retirement savings plan operated by VCU that accepts pre-tax and post-tax (a/k/a Roth) salary contributions.  The plan offers two account providers, TIAA and Fidelity Investments.  To review the investment offerings for each account provider, visit www.tiaa.org/vcu (for TIAA) and/or www.netbenefits.com/vcu (for Fidelity Investments).   New faculty and new University and Academic Professionals are automatically enrolled in this plan on their 60th day of employment for $20 savings with TIAA.  Participants can change their savings amount or investment company at any time by completing a Salary Reduction Agreement and returning to VCU Payroll.  Each new Salary Reduction Agreement overrides any previous agreement on file with VCU Payroll.  To begin voluntary saving with either account provider for the first time at VCU, remember also to open a VCU 403(b) account online at www.tiaa.org/vcu (TIAA) and/or www.netbenefits.com/vcu (Fidelity).  If you have other accounts with these companies, you will still need to set up a VCU account in order to save from your VCU paycheck. If you are a faculty member, University and Academic Professional, or Classified employee, remember to also open a VCU cash match plan account with the same account provider online, in case you qualify for a cash match (see “What does VCU contribute?” below).

Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan:  A retirement savings plan operated by the Virginia Retirement System that accepts pre-tax and post-tax(a/k/a Roth) salary contributions.  The plan offers a range of investments administered by the Virginia Retirement system and its record keeper ICMA-RC.  To begin saving, faculty and staff must enroll online at www.varetirement.org/dcp.  Doing so will also open a Virginia Cash Match Plan account, in case you qualify for a cash match (see “What does VCU contribute?” below). Adjuncts, hourly employees, postdoctoral scholars, graduate assistants and student workers must use the paper enrollment form and are not eligible for cash matches.  If you have transferred to VCU from another employer that offers this plan, the plan resets your contribution amount to zero and you must make a new election with the plan to begin saving from your VCU paycheck.

Some employees are eligible to make voluntary savings in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Hybrid Retirement Plan:

Employees who are members of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) with membership dates January 1, 2014 and later participate in the VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan.  This plan requires a mandatory contribution of 5% but also allows voluntary savings up to 4%.  For example, a participant who makes the mandatory contribution plus the maximum 4% voluntary contribution will contribute 9%.  Voluntary contributions are made to the VRS Hybrid 457 component of the plan.  Participants can elect voluntary VRS Hybrid 457 contributions online by logging into www.varetirement.org/hybrid or by calling 1-877-327-5261.  If you have transferred to VCU from another employer where you participated in this plan, the plan resets your voluntary contribution amount to zero and you must make a new election with the plan to begin saving from your VCU paycheck.

The maximum amount you can save:

Each year, the IRS establishes savings limits for retirement plans. The limits are set by plan type.

The 402(g) elective deferral limit specifies how much you can save in 403(b), 401(k), SIMPLE, and Federal Thrift plans.  The elective deferral limit for calendar year 2020 and for calendar year 2021 is $19,500 each year, and participants who will be age 50 or over during the calendar year can save an additional $6,500 for a total of $26,000 in each calendar year.  These amounts apply to your total savings during the year no matter how many 403(b), 401(k), SIMPLE, and/or Federal Thrift Plans you participate in during the year.  If you participate in the VCU 403(b) plan but have also contributed to another plan during the year that applies to this limit (for example, through any other employer besides the university), it is your responsibility to ensure that you do not exceed the savings limit. Employees with more than 15 years of continuous employment at VCU may be able to save more in the VCU 403(b) plan the the limits described above if their total contributions to the plan average out to less than $3,000 per year of employment.  To find out whether you are eligible to save an extra amount under this provision, email a request to benefits@vcu.edu.

The 457 elective deferral limit is separate and applies only to 457 plans.   The 457 elective deferral limit for calendar year 2020 and for calendar year 2021 is $19,500 each year, and participants who will be age 50 or over during the calendar year can save an additional $6,500 for a total of $26,000 in each calendar year. These amounts apply to your total savings during the year no matter how many 457 plans you participate in during the year.  Since contributions to the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and also voluntary contributions to the VRS Hybrid 457 plan count toward this limit, if you participate in both plans then your savings in both count toward the same limit.  If you have also contributed to any other 457 plan during the year (for example, through any other employer besides the university) it is your responsibility to ensure that you do not exceed the savings limit. Employees who are within 2 years of their normal retirement age may be able to save more in the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 than the limits described above.  See the plan’s Standard Catch Up form for details.

Contributions to your mandatory retirement plan do not count toward the voluntary savings limits:

Employees whose mandatory retirement plan is the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) must contribute 5% of salary to VRS, whether they are in VRS Plan 1, VRS Plan 2, VRS Hybrid Plan, or Virginia Law Officers Retirement System (VaLORS).  The 5% mandatory contribution does not count toward either of the limits described above in “The maximum amount you can save.”

Employees who elected the VCU Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) as their mandatory retirement plan on or after July 1, 2010 are required to contribute 5% of salary to the ORP unless they had other Virginia state retirement service balances before that date.  The 5% mandatory contribution to the ORP does not count toward either of the limits described above in “The maximum amount you can save.”

What does VCU contribute?

VCU does not contribute to any of the voluntary retirement savings plans.

Faculty, University and Academic Professionals, and Classified staff can receive cash matches from VCU when they make voluntary savings.  VCU cash match contributions go to separate accounts and are not mixed with employee savings.

VRS Hybrid Plan participants making voluntary savings in the VRS Hybrid 457 receive matches from VCU in the VRS Hybrid Cash Match Plan.  VCU provides a 100% match on the first 1% of voluntary VRS Hybrid 457 contributions, and a 50% match on each additional ½% of voluntary VRS Hybrid 457 contributions.    VCU’s matching contributions are subject to a 4-year vesting schedule imposed by VRS.  50% of employer contributions belong to the participant after 2 years, 75% after 3 years, and 100% after 4 years of participation in the VRS Hybrid Plan.

VCU also provides a cash match to employees who save in the VCU 403(b) Tax Deferred Annuity or the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.  An employee who saves in both of these plans can receive a cash match only for savings in the VCU 403(b). To qualify, you must save at least $10 in one of the plans each pay period. The VCU match is 50% of your savings amount up to a maximum VCU contribution of $20 per paycheck.  Therefore, to receive the maximum match from VCU on savings in one of these plans, you must save $40 or more per pay period.  The VCU match is directed to a cash match account with the same account provider (TIAA or Fidelity Investments) as your largest VCU 403(b) savings amount.  If you do not participate in the VCU 403(b) and only participate in the VRS 457, the VCU match is directed to the Virginia Cash Match Plan administered by VRS. VRS Hybrid Participants must exhaust all of the employer matches inside the VRS Hybrid Plan before they can receive any VCU cash matches for savings in the VCU 403(b) or the Commonwealth of Virginia 457.  The VCU cash match on savings in the VCU 403(b) or the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 is vested to the employee immediately.  For more information on VCU cash matching, see “The VCU Cash Match Plan: What Is It? Am I Eligible?”

Need more help?

Meet with one of the plan counselors on campus!  It’s free and easy to schedule.

For the VCU 403(b) plan, account representatives from TIAA and Fidelity Investments hold appointments on both campuses (Monroe Park and MCV) monthly.

For the VRS Hybrid Plan and the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 plan, ICMA-RC holds on-campus appointments monthly.

For scheduling and contact information, visit: https://hr.vcu.edu/current-employees/benefits/a-z-list-of-benefits/retirement/individual-counseling/

Remember, VCU does not provide tax advice, investment advice, or retirement income planning.  This benefit description does not constitute tax advice.

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