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Retirement Plans

Required Participation in Plans

University of Idaho employees participate in the following plans, based on eligibility. Employees contribute to PERSI, ORP, Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System. These contributions are made through payroll deduction on a pre-tax basis. The University of Idaho policy on the retirement plans can be found the Faculty-Staff Handbook, Section 3730.

The Idaho State Board of Education requires participation in the retirement plans as follows:

  • Classified Employees are required to participate in PERSI
  • Faculty and non-faculty exempt employees are required to participate in ORP
  • Faculty and non-faculty exempt employees that elected to remain with PERSI when the ORP was initially rolled out and new employees that are already VESTED with PERSI (either from a previous position with the university or from a prior employer) can choose to continue contributing to PERSI.


Classified staff and temporary hourly employees working 20 hours/week for five or more months are eligible for PERSI benefits. Faculty and Non-Faculty Exempt employees who elected to remain in PERSI when the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) was first rolled out and those that are already vested with PERSI may continue to contribute to PERSI rather than enrolling in the ORP. PERSI enrollment is automatic for all classified employees and is effective beginning their first pay period.

2013 Rate Increase

At its Dec. 4, 2012 meeting, the PERSI Retirement Board briefly discussed the contribution rate increase as well as the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for retirees and other issues. With the increase, employees will pay 6.79 percent and employers will pay 11.32 percent to fund future benefits, effective July 15, 2013. 

Many complex factors affect PERSI contribution rates; however, the effect of market volatility that continued in 2009 was the primary reason the increase was proposed. It is worth noting that even with the increase, employee rates remain lower than they were in 1996.


  • Employee contributions: 6.79 percent (Effective July 15, 2013)
  • University contributions: 11.32 percent (Effective July 15, 2013)


Employees are vested after 5 years (60 months)

Plan Characteristics

PERSI is a defined benefit plan that is governed by the PERSI plan document. Please refer to the PERSI website for further details. A PERSI Orientation is available online.

Contact Information

Phone: (800) 451-8228


The 1990 state legislature established the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) for faculty and non-faculty exempt staff. This is a mandatory retirement program. The ORP is a defined contribution plan and is administered by Teachers’ Insurance Annuity Association/Consolidated Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) and Variable Annuity Life Insurance Corporation (VALIC).


  • Employee contribution: 6.97 percent
  • University contribution: 9.255 percent (Effective July 7, 2013)


Employees are immediately vested upon enrollment.

Characteristics of Plans

Both administrators offer diverse investment options for eligible employees. Membership is portable with any other higher education institution offering retirement plans through TIAA-CREF or VALIC. Eligibility requirements and benefits are governed by the ORP plan document that can be found on the State Board of Education website.

Disability Protection with the ORP

The University of Idaho purchases a retirement deposit protection policy from The Standard Insurance Company that, if approved, continues your retirement deposits in the event of a disability. Your online pay records will reflect the university's contribution for this coverage as ORD.

Contact Information

Phone: (800) 842-2733 

Phone: (800) 448-2542 

Supplemental tax sheltered retirement plans are available to benefit-eligible employees. Contributions are not matched by the university, but they are deducted before income taxes and deposited each pay period with the provider or providers chosen by the employee. Changes to contribution amounts can be made at any time by completing and submitting a new salary reduction form.

Salary Reduction Authorization Form


PERSI Choice plans are defined contribution plans available to PERSI participants that are board-appointed or temporary employees working 20 hour/week for 5+ months. The contribution limit for calendar year 2015 is $18,000, with an additional $6,000 for “catch up contributions” for employees age 50 or over. This limit is shared with 403(b) accounts. For more information and enrollment forms, please visit the PERSI website.


The 403(b) plans are defined contribution plans available to all benefit eligible employees through a select group of vendors (below). Once the employee has established a vendor account, he or she needs to submit a completed Supplemental Retirement Salary Reduction Form to Payroll and Benefit Services. The contribution limit for calendar year 2015 is $18,000, with an additional $6,000 for “catch up contributions” for employees age 50 or over. This limit is shared with 401(k) accounts.

See the Vendor List for more information.


The 457(b) is a non-qualified deferred compensation plan that is available to all benefit eligible employees through a select group of vendors (below). The contribution limit for calendar year 2015 is $18,000, with an additional $6,000 for “catch up contributions” for employees age 50 or over. This limit is separate from 401(k)/403(b) accounts.

Deferred Compensation Committee Letter

Vendor List

Once the employee has enrolled with one of the above vendors, he or she needs to complete the Supplemental 'Salary Reduction Authorization Form' and return to Payroll and Benefit Services.


The Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System are defined benefit plans available only to those Cooperative Extension employees who transferred to Idaho from another agency where they were enrolled in a civil service or federal employees retirement plan. Eligibility requirements and benefits are governed by the federal government plan document and applicable federal regulations. Please refer to the government retirement website for further details.

Contact Information

Judy Colbeck 
Benefits Specialist 
(208) 885-3608 

Physical Address:
415 West 6th Street
Moscow, ID 83844-4332 

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 4332
Moscow, ID 83844-4332 

Phone: (208) 885-3697

Fax: (208) 885-3330