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Mandatory Retirement Programs

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University employees have two retirement program options and participation in one of the two is mandatory.

Contributions to both programs are pre-tax contributions through payroll deduction. Here are the current contribution rates:

Program From Employee From Employer
TRS 6.4% 6%
ORP 6.65% 8.5%

 

Teacher Retirement System (TRS)

TRS is a defined benefit retirement plan governed by Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a). All eligible employees of The University of Texas at Austin are automatically enrolled in TRS on their first day of employment. Employee and employer contributions go into a large trust fund that's managed by knowledgeable professionals. Retirement benefits are based on legislatively determined formulas. You are vested after attaining five years of service credit with a right to a retirement benefit. There are also disability, death and survivor benefits available to TRS members.

See the TRS Benefits Handbook on the TRS Web site for more information about this valuable benefit. You may also contact TRS for assistance.

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Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

ORP is a defined contribution plan governed by Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b). You choose the investments made and the benefits are based on their performance. You're vested after one year and one day of participation with a right to both your and your employer's contributions. ORP is more portable than TRS. But, federal tax law prohibits 403(b) plans from providing disability benefits like those provided by TRS.

Eligibility

To participate in ORP, you must:

  1. Initially be appointed on a full-time basis for at least 4.5 months
  2. Be appointed in an ORP eligible position. The following positions are generally ORP-eligible:
    • Faculty member whose duties include teaching and/or research as a principal activity.
    • Faculty administrator responsible for teaching and research faculty
    • Executive or other key administrator
    • Professional librarian
    • Athletic coach
    • Specialized professional (such as a physician)

See the University of Texas System ORP Policy for more detailed definitions of positions.

Enrollment

Participation in ORP is a once in a lifetime decision and can't be revoked. You have 90 days to enroll beginning on your date of eligibility. You'll be temporarily enrolled in TRS in the meantime. If you choose ORP, you'll give up any of the university's contributions made to TRS during those 90 days. If you don't choose ORP, you'll become a permanent member of TRS.

If you've vested in ORP at another public institution of higher education in Texas before coming to the university, contact HRSC. You'll need to re-enroll in ORP as of your date of eligibility at the university by submitting the ORP Acknowledgement and Authorization for Reduction for Employee Contribution for Employees Returning to ORP form [PDF].

If you've never participated in ORP, you'll receive notice if you're eligible for ORP, and should visit UTRetirement Manager to enroll. If you don't receive notice and believe you're eligible for ORP, contact HRSC as soon as possible to begin the enrollment process.

If you're a first-time UTRetirement Manager user, see "Getting Started" before following the steps below.

Steps for enrolling through UTRetirement Manager:

  1. Select one or more approved providers.
  2. Log into UTRetirement Manager and choose “ORP Enroll/Change.”
  3. Complete the account application for the providers you have selected and submit them directly to the provider.
  4. Complete TRS Form 28, Notice to Elect to Participate in Optional Retirement Program [PDF], and submit the original, notarized copy to HRSC. This is required of all new ORP participants.
  5. If you have an account balance with TRS, complete TRS Form 29, TRS Application for Refund [PDF], and mail the original notarized copy to HRSC. You can check "My Earning Statements" (EID required) to confirm if you've contributed to TRS.

If you don't want to use UTRetirement Manager:

  1. Select one or more approved providers.
  2. Complete the account application for the providers you have selected and submit them directly to the provider.
  3. Complete the ORP Acknowledgement form [PDF] and submit it to HRSC.
  4. Complete the Authorization for Reduction for Employee Contribution form [PDF] and submit it to HRSC.
  5. Complete TRS Form 28, Notice of Election to Participate in Optional Retirement Program [PDF], and submit the original, notarized copy to HRSC. This is required of all new ORP participants.
  6. If you have an account balance with TRS, complete TRS Form 29, Application for Refund [PDF], and mail the original notarized copy to HRSC. You can check "My Earning Statements" (EID required)

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