Alternative Retirement Plans for Colleges & Universities
Since you work for a public institution, you are being offered the option of making a decision to choose your retirement plan provider. This is an important decision, and one you should take seriously. We understand each one of you has unique and changing needs when it comes to planning for your retirement.
OPERS recognizes the best choice of a retirement plan varies by individual and as such, there are important factors to consider when making a plan selection. Employees should consider the most current information available to make the best choice for their individual situation.
Beginning August 1, 2005, Senate Bill 133 extended eligibility for participation in an ARP to:
- All eligible, full-time employees of public universities and colleges with less than five years of service credit as of Aug. 1, 2005 who have not previously had the opportunity to choose an ARP;
- Full-time employees hired after Aug. 1, 2005;
- Employees who change from part-time to full-time status after Aug. 1, 2005 who will be treated as new hires; and
- Law enforcement personnel and re-employed retirees who are otherwise eligible.
Remember, the college or university determines the definition of full-time employment.
Prior to SB 133, only full-time, academic or administrative employees in the unclassified civil service with less than five years of service credit at the time the ARP was established and new employees in that category who were hired or reclassified were eligible to participate in an ARP.
Eligible employees have 120 days from their employment start date or date they transferred to an eligible position in which to make the decision to choose an ARP.
Election forms are available from the college or university or online. Be sure to talk with your employer to learn which ARP vendors have a relationship with your institution. The completed form must be returned to the college or university human resources department within the 120-day election period. Do not return these election forms to OPERS.
Once an ARP is selected, it is irrevocable while you remain employed with the same college or university. If you change employers, or there is a one-year break in service and you go back to the same college or university, you have an opportunity to select OPERS membership.
New employees who are eligible to choose one of the three OPERS retirement plans will receive the OPERS Welcome Letter, which contains detailed information about OPERS and the benefits of membership in our system.
Employees are encouraged to call the OPERS Member Service Center at 1-800-222-7377 for counseling on this important decision. In-house counseling and phone counseling appointments can be scheduled at this number.
Law enforcement officers, re-employed retirees and those with previous OPERS service credit are urged to call Ohio PERS to discuss their unique situation.
Special Note on Employer Contributions
The mitigating rate is a portion of the employer contributions paid by university employers on behalf of their employees who choose not to join OPERS, and is intended to offset the financial impact of the loss of their contributions.
The Ohio General Assembly established in Ohio law a formula for calculating the percentage of an ARP participant’s compensation, funded by the employer contributions, which must be paid to OPERS by a college or university. It requires OPERS’ independent actuary to perform the calculation every five years.
OPERS currently withholds 0.77 percent and this rate will increase to 2.44 percent July 1, 2017, the first increase in nine years.