Human Resources

Benefits: Retirement

Participation in a retirement plan is mandatory for permanent employees working 75% time (30 hours) or more. (Employees working less than 75% time cannot participate.) Employees must contribute 6% of salary, deducted prior to Federal and State income taxes, to the retirement plan and are vested after five years of participation. (Note: Employees may contribute more than 6% for retirement through a Supplemental Retirement program [see below]).

The three retirement programs available to UNCW employees are:

In addition, the university offers a Phased Retirement Program for tenured faculty.

Teachers and State Employees Retirement Plan (TSERS)

Eligibility: Available to permanent employees working 30 hours or more per week. Employees contribute 6% of salary per month.

TSERS is a defined benefit plan. With a Defined Benefit Plan, benefits are based on salary, years of service and a retirement factor. The retirement benefit is not based on the amount of contributions nor the investment earnings. There is no investment risk for the individual since the state takes on the risk and guarantees the retirement benefit. TSERS is not "portable" except to other North Carolina state agencies, including the 16 constituent institutions of the UNC System, NC Community Colleges, and NC Public Schools.

Vesting:

  • Employess must complete 5 years of membership service (5 years of contributing to TSERS) to be fully vested in their retirement benefits.

The retirement benefit for a defined benefit plan is based on a formula and not on the amount you or the state contribute. The formula for TSERS is determined by state statute and is:

  • Average salary based on the highest 48 consecutive months of earnings
  • Multiplied by a Retirement Factor of 1.82%
  • Multiplied by your creditable years of service

The University contributes an amount set by the state legislature each year which funds the:

  • Retirement benefit
  • Retirees' Health Care plan
  • Disability Income benefit
  • Death benefit

The University contribution to TSERS is not a match to your contribution, it can change each year and does not go into the same account as your 6% contribution.

You qualify for full (or unreduced) retirement benefits with:

  • 30 years of creditable service at any age or
  • 25 years of service and age 60 or
  • 5 years of service and age 65

You qualify for a reduced retirement benefit with:

  • 20 years of service and age 50 or
  • 5 years of service and age 60

Options at termination of employment differ depending on whether or not you are vested:

Less than 5 Years of Service (Not Vested):

  • You can withdraw your contributions as a lump sum or as a direct rollover to an IRA. By withdrawing your funds, you lose your contributory years of service.
  • If you expect to be employed by the State of North Carolina in the future, you can leave your contributions in the plan. You do not lose your contributory years of service.

More than 5 Years of Service (Vested):

  • You can leave your contributions in the plan. When you are eligible for and begin receiving a monthly retirement benefit from the plan you may be eligible for the retiree health insurance.
  • You can withdraw your contributions plus interest as a lump sum or as a direct rollover to an IRA. By withdrawing your funds you forfeit your rights to retiree health insurance. You also lose your contributory years of service.

For detailed information about TSERS, including full (or unreduced) and reduced retirement benefits, death benefits, survivor benefits, please see the TSERS Handbook.

Retirement System homepage
TSERS Estimate of Benefits
TSERS Applications and Forms
TSERS Purchasing Service Credit
Choosing a Retirement Program (for employees eligible for TSERS or ORP)

Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

Eligibility: Available to permanent employees working 30 hours or more per week. Employees contribute 6% of salary per month.

The ORP is a defined contribution plan. With a Defined Contribution Plan, retirement benefits are based on the accumulation (your contributions, the university contributions and the interest and dividends earned) and your age at the time you begin the benefit. Since you select the investment vehicle(s) for the contributions you assume the investment risk for your retirement plan. See Choosing a Retirement Program.

The annual retirement benefit for the Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is based on:

  • Your final accumulation in the plan (contributions, investment and dividend earnings)
  • The method of payment you elect at the time of retirement.

The University contributes an amount set by the state legislature each year that funds:

  • Your retirement account with the ORP carrier
  • Retirees' Health Care Plan
  • Disability Income benefit

University contribution:

  • 6.84% to your retirement account with the ORP carrier
  • Retiree Health Plan
  • Disability Income Plan

Under the ORP, you have a number of choices to make regarding your retirement fund. First, you must choose from the four carriers, and then you must select from the different investment funds to meet your investment objectives and goals. The four carriers are:

You may elect to allocate both your and the university's contributions to one carrier or you may allocate your contributions to one carrier and the University's contributions to another carrier. You can change which carrier either of the contributions go to at anytime.

The UNC Office of the President published a quarterly comparison of fund performance for all funds available through the ORP. If you have questions about fund performance, please contact the ORP carrier directly. Past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance.

Options at termination of employment differ depending on whether or not you are vested:

Less than 5 Years of Service (Not Vested):

  • You can withdraw your contributions and earnings as a lump sum or roll them over to an IRA or another qualified plan. The University's contributions are returned to the UNC system and transferred to the State Retirement System.
  • You can leave your contributions in the plan. The University's contributions return to the UNC system.
  • If you expect to be employed by an institution of higher education that offers a "like" retirement plan using one of the carriers offered through the ORP and you participate in that plan within 12 months of leaving UNC, you can leave your contributions in the plan and be considered 100% vested; you will retain both your contributions and the university contributions and all earnings.

More than 5 Years of Service (Vested):

  • You can keep your contributions, the university contributions and all interest and earnings in the plan and retain your right to the state retiree health insurance. Retiree health insurance is a benefit only when you are receiving monthly retirement income from your ORP carrier.
  • You can withdraw your contributions, the university contributions and all interest and earnings as a lump sum or as a direct rollover to an IRA or another qualified plan, as permitted by the ORP carrier. By withdrawing your funds you forfeit your rights to retiree health insurance.

TSERS or ORP - Considerations

  • Willingness to assume investment risk - the individual assumes the investment risk with the ORP.
  • Your age - Generally, plans like TSERS favor employees who are hired and begin participation at ages 45 or older who plan to continue employment at UNC for the rest of their career. ORP plans generally favor employees who enter the plan younger, regardless of whether they participate in the plan for an extended time.
  • Importance of Portability - TSERS is portable if you will be going to other North Carolina state agencies (including the 16 constituent institutions of the UNC system, Community Colleges, Public Schools and all Agencies and Departments of the State), ORP is portable if you will be going to other Universities and participating in a "like" plan.
  • Years of Service you have with the State - Generally, TSERS favors employees whose years of service will provide full (unreduced) retirement benefits at the time of retirement.
  • Preference for receiving a guaranteed retirement benefit based on years of service and salary - TSERS provides a guaranteed retirement benefit, the ORP does not since it is a defined contribution plan.

For more information contact Kelly Kennedy, HR benefits counselor for faculty and administrators, at 910-962-3006 or kennedyk@uncw.edu or contact the UNCW representative for each carrier:

Fidelity Investments
Cleo Morgan
Workplace Planning & Guidance Consultant
803-507-4960(c)
cleo.morgan@fmr.com

TIAA-CREF
Joshua Scott
Financial Consultant
919-687-5240(c)
joshua.scott@tiaa-cref.org

Lincoln Financial Group
Paige Lowry
Senior Retirement Consultant
910-256-4220 (c)
paige.lowryleonard@lfg.com

VALIC
David Haden, CFP
Senior Financial Advisor
910-301-2710 (c)
david.haden@valic.com

Employees wising to contribute more than 6% of salary to retirement should see Supplemental Retirement Plans.

Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System For State Law Enforcement Officers (LEO)

Eligibility: Permanent full-time law enforcement officers. Employees contribute 6% per month.

LEO is a defined contribution plan for law enforcement officers only. Benefits are based on salary, years of service and a retirement factor. The retirement benefit is not based on the amount of contributions nor the investment earnings. There is no investment risk for the individual since the state takes on the risk and guarantees the retirement benefit.

The retirement formula for LEO is determined by state statue and is:

  • Average salary based on the highest 48 consecutive months of earnings
  • Multiplied by a retirement factor of 1.82%
  • Multiplied by years and months of creditable service

Law enforcement officers qualify for full (or unreduced) retirement benefits as follows:

  • 30 years of creditable service at any age or
  • Age 55 and five years of creditable service as an officer

Law enforcement officers qualify for reduced (early retirement) benefits at:

  • Age 50 and 15 years of creditable service as an officer

Early retirement benefits are determined by the same formula as unreduced retirement benefits multiplied by a reduction percentage based on your age and/or service at early retirement. The reduction percentages can be found in the Retirement Handbook.

For detailed information about LEO please see the LEO handbook.

Retirement Forms
Retirement Estimator

Additional Benefits to Law Enforcement Officers

As a law enforcement officer you are automatically enrolled in the State of North Carolina 401(k) Plan and the university contributes 5% of your salary into your account in the Plan. You may elect to make additional contributions on a tax-deferred basis.

Additional Information

If you would like information about supplemental retirement plans (401k, 403b or 457 deferred compensation) please go to supplemental retirement plans.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is general in nature. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Information on this website cannot alter, modify, or otherwise change the controlling documents of any plan. For legal and tax advice employees should consult an attorney or tax adviser.