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Policy 361: Retirement Plans and Retirement Benefits

Section: Personnel Policies
Sub-Section: Benefits
Policy Number: 361
Subject: Retirement Plans and Retirement Benefits
Covered Employees: Benefit Eligible Employees
Origin Date: January 24, 1997
Revision Date(s): July 1, 1999, October 1, 2015
Effective Date: October 1, 2015
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361.1 POLICY

In accordance with the policies and guidelines of the Utah State Board of Regents and Utah state law, the University has established retirement plans and retirement benefits for eligible University employees.


Retirement Status: For purposes of this policy, an employee is considered to have retirement status when the employee discontinues regular employment from the University and is eligible, under Internal Revenue Code, to draw on retirement contributions without penalty.

University’s Defined Contribution 401(a) Plan: The University makes tax deferred contributions to retirement plans managed by TIAA-Cref and/or Fidelity established on behalf of University employees. Employees decide how to allocate the contributions among the investment choices. Funds are available, following the Internal Revenue guidelines, when an employee terminates or retires from the University.

Utah Retirement Systems (URS) Plans: The University makes tax deferred contributions to retirement plans managed by Utah Retirement Systems on behalf of certain University employees. The retirement plans, governed by Utah Code Title 49, managed by URS include defined pension, defined contribution, and hybrid retirement plans.


3.1 Eligibility

Participation in one of the retirement programs offered by the University is required by Utah state law for all faculty and staff employees in benefit-eligible positions. Enrollment in a retirement program becomes effective the day the employee's appointment becomes effective.

1) An eligible individual who was in the employment of the University on December 31, 1978 will be enrolled permanently in the retirement plan elected by the employee on or before that date.

2) An eligible individual who enters employment with the University on or after January 1, 1979 shall (except as otherwise required or allowed by Utah law) be enrolled in the retirement program applicable to the group to which his or her position is classified by the University. Effective October 1, 2015, in accordance with the Utah System of Higher Education Guidelines for Retirement Programs, the University classifies the following groups to be eligible for participation in either (a) the appropriate URS system and/or plan or (b) the University’s Defined Contribution 401(a) Plan:

  • a) Employees who are employed in the University’s Department of Public Safety as (i) a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or special function officer, and in the course of employment, the employee’s life or personal safety is at risk, and who have completed a certified training program which is documented with URS, or (ii) a full-time dispatcher expected to work 40 hours per week, whose primary duties are to receive calls for police and other public safety emergencies and dispatch appropriate personnel and equipment and who have completed a certified training program which is documented with URS, shall be enrolled in URS.
  • b) All employees who make an irrevocable election to participate in URS (see paragraph 3 below) shall be enrolled in URS.
  • c) All other employees eligible to participate in University-funded retirement programs shall be enrolled in the 401(a) Plan.

3) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1, an eligible person first employed after January 1, 1979 and enrolled in URS, whose employment classification is changed after September 30, 2015 to a classification eligible to participate in the 401(a) Plan, shall remain enrolled in URS.

4) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 and as required by Utah law, all employees who begin eligible employment with the University who have previously participated in URS and who make a timely, irrevocable election to participate in URS as a University employee shall be enrolled in URS.


In addition to the specific financial benefits associated with each of the retirement programs, the following general privileges and benefits are available to all retired Utah State University employees.

1) Reduced tuition registration for retired employees, their spouses, and dependent children in classes offered by the University as outlined in the University's Educational Benefits Policy #350.

2) Access to the University libraries and building facilities for personal study and research.

3) Access to USU’s Employee Wellness program.


5.1 Department Heads and Supervisors

Responsible for immediately notifying the Office of Human Resources of any request for retirement.

5.2 Office of Human Resources

Responsible for assisting with the implementation and administration of this policy.

5.3 Employees

Responsible to notify their departments in a timely manner of their intent to retire.