The University of Iowa supports the efforts of our faculty and staff to plan a fulfilling, financially secure retirement. As part of our total rewards package, the university offers mandatory and voluntary retirement options to help you meet your financial goals. Retirement program eligibility is based on your appointment type and if you have taxable wages. 

Mandatory Options


Contribution Maximums

2024 Plan Limits

Mandatory Retirement Plan Options

Eligible employees can choose between two mandatory retirement plan vendors, Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) or the university-funded retirement plan through the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA). Both the University and the employee will contribute to their mandatory retirement plan. 


Newly hired or newly eligible employees with a retirement-eligible appointment and not currently participating in one of the mandatory university retirement plans may choose to participate in either IPERS or TIAA.

  • Faculty and staff with an appointment expected to last six months or more must participate in a mandatory retirement plan. 
  • Students, house staff, fellows, and adjunct faculty are not eligible to participate in the mandatory retirement plan.

Review Your Mandatory Options - IPERS or TIAA


Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System (IPERS) is an employer pension plan that uses a formula to guarantee a specified benefit at retirement. As a defined benefit plan, IPERS provides guaranteed retirement benefits for as long as you live (no matter how long you live and no matter how the investments perform) using a formula based on a member's age, years of service, and covered wages. IPERS takes on all the investment risk. Your benefit amount is not affected by stock market fluctuations. 

IPERS Features
Contact InformationPhone: 800-622-3849 (7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Mon - Fri)
Website:  IPERS website
Plan Type401(a) Defined Benefit Plan. Federal and State income taxes on contributions are deferred until the benefits are received. Retirement income is contingent on a formula based on your years of service and salary earned.

All employees (except house staff, fellows, adjunct faculty, and students) with employment expected to last six months or more must participate in a retirement plan. 

Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 

EnrollmentIPERS is the University's default plan and is already selected within Employee Self-Service. You do not need to do anything further if you choose IPERS as your retirement plan. Watch for a welcome packet to your home address with your Member ID number and IPERS My Account information. 
Calendar Year Wage Ceiling

CY2023 wage ceiling: $330,000

CY2024 wage ceiling: $345,000

The IRS annually establishes a maximum wage ceiling. This is the maximum wage amount from which contributions to IPERS must be withheld. Wages above this ceiling are not subject to IPERS withholding, and employers do not include them on IPERS reports. IPERS monitors covered wages for members with multiple employers. IPERS accepts all covered wages until a member has reached the IRS limit and will notify employers that report wages over the limit. IPERS will return any excess contributions. 

Vesting begins after seven years (28 quarters) of wages reported or reaches age 65 while in covered employment, whichever comes first. Review extended benefits as an IPERS vested member on the IPERS website.

Protection Occupations:
You will become vested when you have four years (16 quarters) of wages reported or reach age 55 while in covered employment, whichever comes first.

Employee & Employer Contributions

(on all salaries with any length of employment)
  • the Employee will contribute 6.29%
  • the University will contribute 9.44%

Protection Occupations:

  • the Employee will contribute 6.21%
  • the University will contribute 9.31%

The university-funded retirement plan with the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) is a Defined Contribution Plan - 403(b). This is a tax-deferred plan in which employees contribute a fixed percentage of their paychecks to an account intended to fund their retirement. In addition, the University of Iowa contributes double the employee percentage each month.

This plan requires the employee to choose from investment options on the TIAA employee account to fit their retirement goals, such as a higher-risk portfolio with more risk but potentially more significant returns versus a more conservative portfolio with lower risk and returns. The employee takes on all the investment risk. The TIAA plan does not guarantee retirement income like the IPERS defined benefit plan does.

TIAA PLAN features
Contact Information Phone: 319-356-8000 or Toll Free 866-842-2977
Website: TIAA website
Plan Type 403(b) Defined Contribution Plan. Individually-owned retirement accounts issued by TIAA. Federal and State income taxes on contributions are deferred until the benefits are received. Retirement income is contingent upon your individual investment returns.
Eligibility All employees (except house staff, fellows, adjunct faculty, and students) with employment expected to last six months or more must participate in a retirement plan. 
Enrollment If you wish to select TIAA as your mandatory retirement plan, log in to Employee Self-Service >> Benefits & Wellness >> Retirement >> Retirement Enrollment and select the box labeled "TIAA," and submit to the Benefits Office.

You must make your election within 60 days of your new hire date or newly eligible, or you will default into the University's default retirement plan, IPERS.
2024 Annual Maximum Eligible Salary

Staff hired before Jan. 01, 1996  -  $460,000
(this IRS rule only applies to the mandatory and voluntary 403(b) plans)

Staff hired after Jan. 01, 1996  -  $345,000

Vesting An employee is immediately vested.
Employee & Employer Contributions The contribution rates for the mandatory 403(b) plan are fixed. An employee may not increase or decrease these rates.

For the first five years of employment until the employee has earned their first $4,800 of salary each year:

Employee contribution amount of 3.33% on the first $4,800 of earned salary

University contribution amount of 6.66%  on the first $4,800 of salary

Once the employee has reached the first $4,800 of salary earned that year, both the employee and University contributions will increase until the end of that same calendar year:

  • Employee contribution amount increases to 5%
  • University contribution amount increases to 10%

For the first five years, on Jan. 01, contributions will decrease back to 3.33% and 6.66% until the employee earns their first $4,800 salary in that calendar year. 

After the employee reaches five years of employment - Contributions will begin and remain for the remainder of employment:

  • Employee - 5%
  • University - 10%

This change can happen mid-year, depending on when the employee was hired and when they would reach their fifth-anniversary date. 

Employee and University Contribution Rates

  • The mandatory retirement plan contribution rates for TIAA are fixed and cannot be increased or decreased by the employee.
  • The IPERS Investment Board hires an actuarial firm to study the System's assets and liabilities and determine the required contribution rates for each membership group. IPERS Rates may change slightly yearly, with a maximum change of 1% per year. The contribution rate period is from 7/1 to 6/30 each year. 

Note: no change in rates; FY'23 rates carry forward.

TIAA First five years First $4,800 of salary 3.33% 6.66%
Salary above $4,800 5% 10%
After five years All Salary 5% 10%



All Salary



IPERS Certified Law Enforcement Occupations Any All Salary



TIAA contributions and your salary

For the first five years of retirement-eligible employment, the employee will start each year contributing 3.33%, and the University will contribute 6.66% for the first $4,800 of earned salary.

Once the employee has earned over $4,800 in salary, their contributions will increase to 5%, and the University will contribute 10% for the remainder of the calendar year. 

Every January for the first five years, the employee will see a drop in their contribution percentages (Employee - 3.33% and UI - 6.66%) until they earn their first $4,800 for the new year. They will then automatically increase back to 5% and 10% for the year.

Once employees meet the 5-year minimum, they will automatically start each year at 5% and 10% on their January paycheck. 

IPERS contributions

The IPERS contribution rate remains the same each year (depending on no changes from the IPERS' Investment Board) on all salaries earned by the employee in that plan year. 

Serious consideration must be given to choosing a retirement plan. It is an irrevocable decision. Once one retirement program is elected over the other, you have waived your right to participate in the other retirement program in the future during your employment with the University of Iowa. 

How to Make Your Retirement Election

Enrolling in your mandatory retirement plan is a two-step process.

  1. Make your initial election in Employee Self-Service within the first 60 days of your hire/eligibility date.
  2. Your second step is to visit your vendor's website and set up your online account.

After researching and reading all the information, you should be ready to select your retirement plan.

1st Step: Make election in Employee Self-Service


  1. Log in with your HawkID and password
  2. Select the "Benefits & Wellness" link on the left-hand menu
  3. Select the link labeled "Retirement" and then "Retirement Enrollment."
  4. On the next screen, it will show that you are currently enrolled in IPERS.
    1. If you want to change that selection, choose the " TIAA " box and submit your choice to the Benefits Office.
    2. If you wish to remain in IPERS, you will not have to do anything further. 

Members of professional groups where part-time income from the University is not the majority of their income can use IPERS Exemption Claim Form (pdf) to request an exemption from IPERS.

2nd Step: Creating your account with IPERS or TIAA

Now that you have made your final selection and submitted it to University Benefits (TIAA only), you will want to set up your online account with the vendor you have chosen for your mandatory retirement plan. 


  1. Review your welcome packet from IPERS: Within two months of your first paycheck, you will receive a welcome packet from IPERS to your home address. Your welcome letter will contain your member ID number and your "My Account" username. If you have never received or may have lost your welcome letter, please call IPERS directly at 800-622-3849. 
  2. Access your IPERS "My Account": When you receive your username (found within your welcome letter) and temporary password (mailed to you after your welcome packet), you will log in to the IPERS website and update your email, home address, and identify and add your beneficiaries.
    (Beneficiary information does not translate from Employee Self-Service to your retirement account at IPERS)


  1. Visit the TIAA microsite for the University of Iowa employees
    *If you are asked for an access code, enter IAFP67
  2. Select the button labeled "Ready to Enroll."
  3. For your mandatory plan, select the first option, "Defined Contribution Retirement Plan," and then "Begin Enrollment."
    1. If you do not already have a TIAA account, select the yellow "Register Now" button or type in your User ID and Password. 
    2. Once you have completed your registration, please review your account information, add/update contact information, and ADD a BENEFICIARY.
      (Beneficiary information does not translate from Employee Self-Service to your retirement accounts in TIAA.)

Additional Mandatory Plan Information

New Hires

IPERS is the default mandatory retirement program at the University of Iowa; employees are automatically enrolled in IPERS unless they elect TIAA within 60 days of their hire/eligibility date.

  • Retirement contributions will begin on the first paycheck. If your retirement election is not submitted within Employee Self-Service before the first paycheck, IPERS contributions will be automatically deducted. If TIAA is later elected before the end of the 60-day election period, the IPERS contributions will be refunded to the employee/employer. The TIAA contributions will begin on the following paycheck.

Employees returning AFTER 31 days or more break.

Employees who've worked for the university previously and have returned within a new retirement-eligible appointment, with a 31-day or more break in service, are considered new hires and will be required to enroll in a mandatory retirement plan again.

Employees returning BEFORE 31 days or more break.

Suppose the employee does not have a 31-day or more service break and returns to the university in a new retirement-eligible appointment. In that case, the employee will not receive another election opportunity as they are NOT considered a new hire. The university and employee mandatory retirement contributions will continue in the previously elected retirement plan. 

Your Options When You Terminate


No matter when you leave IPERS-covered employment, you are always entitled to 100 percent of your own contributions and interest earnings. If you are vested, you can receive a portion of your employer’s investment based on your years of service. 

1. Leave your funds with IPERS.

Leave your money with IPERS until you receive retirement benefits, return to IPERS-covered employment, or choose another alternative.

  • Your money will continue to earn interest.
  • You will not have to do anything with your account until you are ready to take action.

2. Roll your money over to another retirement plan.

To roll over funds to another plan, you must take a refund, ending your IPERS membership. You must withdraw 100% of your funds. 

Two ways to complete a rollover
Fill out the Application for IPERS Refund (available in your IPERS My Account).

  1. Direct Rollover
    If you make a direct rollover, you can avoid mandatory income tax withholding, defer income tax liability, and, if applicable, avoid a 10 percent early-distribution tax.
    • Confirm that your new plan accepts funds from the 401(a) IPERS account and to whom the rollover check should be made payable to. IPERS will then send your rollover check directly to that institution on your behalf. 
  2. Take your refund from IPERS and send money yourself to another retirement plan.

3. Take a refund.

Please complete the Application for IPERS Refund (available in your IPERS My Account) only after leaving all employment with an IPERS-covered employer. You must withdraw 100% of your available money.  

  • Please note that if your new job is still an IPERS-covered employer, your IPERS participation will continue automatically, and you cannot take your money out of IPERS at that time.

The refund value of your IPERS account includes your contributions, any employer contributions you are entitled to, and interest earnings. You must be vested to receive any of your employer's contributions. 

IPERS will issue your rollover payment or cash refund generally within two to three weeks of receiving your completed application. 

Important things to consider before taking a refund:

  • If you later return to IPERS-covered employment, you will be enrolled as a new member without credit for any service before the refund. 
  • Once you file for a refund, you cannot work in IPERS-covered employment for 30 days after leaving employment or your refund will be revoked. If you return before 30 days have passed, you must pay back your refund within 30 days of notification from IPERS. 
  • Your IPERS refund is taxable income if paid directly to you (instead of being rolled over). 
    • If you are an Iowa resident, IPERS will automatically withhold 20% of the taxable portion for federal income taxes plus an additional 5% for state income taxes. 
    • If you receive your refund before age 59 ½, you may be responsible for an additional 10% early-withdrawal tax penalty. It's recommended to visit a tax advisor before applying for a refund. 
    • IPERS will send you an IRS Form 1099-R in January, the year following your rollover or refund. 


To read about the potential advantages and disadvantages of any of the four options below, please visit the TIAA website for more information.

Your Options:

  1. Leave your money in your former employer's retirement plan and continue to have the opportunity for tax-deferred growth. 
  2. Move your money directly into an individual Retirement Account (IRA).
  3. Move your money directly into your new employer's retirement plan.
  4. Withdraw your money in cash. 
    • 20% federal income tax withheld; state taxes may apply as well. 
    • Distributions will be taxed as ordinary income when you file your taxes.
    • A potential 10% early withdrawal penalty may apply if you are under age 59½.

Request for a refund should not be made until after termination of employment.
Termination of employment means you no longer receive any form of salary or wage compensation from the University of Iowa eligible for TIAA contributions. Please be aware that TIAA will only grant a refund request approved by the University of Iowa. 

When applying for a refund or to move your funds from TIAA, the former employee will need to:

  1. Log in to their online TIAA account
  2. In the top horizontal menu, select the "Actions" tab
  3. Under the "Retirement plans" section,
    1. To request a refund/withdrawal of funds, select the link labeled "View available loans & withdrawals" and complete the following steps.
    2. If you want to move your money from TIAA, select the link labeled "Move money from TIAA" and complete the following steps. 

Upon receipt of your request for a refund, TIAA will send you a computer-generated letter. The University sends a monthly file of terminations on the first business Monday of each month. It will then take three to four weeks until your refund is completed.

The TIAA office in Coralville offers services available to you about retirement savings and personal financial planning. Therefore, you may request release time from work to schedule a visit to the TIAA office in Coralville during regular business hours. You will be limited to one appointment per calendar year without using vacation for a maximum of two hours.

You can schedule an appointment by phone or online.

You must work with your department in scheduling the appointment to balance the needs of the work area. If you prefer not to notify your supervisor of your intention to visit the TIAA office or if you request additional appointments, you must use your vacation time. You are not eligible for additional compensation if you consult with the TIAA representatives outside of your regular work hours.

The financial services offered by TIAA are an essential benefit to you, and therefore, the University feels it is vital to facilitate reasonable access to these services.

TIAA Customer Protection

TIAA goes to great lengths to protect your TIAA account from unauthorized access. Find out how by visiting the TIAA Customer Protection (pdf) flyer.

Retirement Plan Limits

Retirement plan 2024 2023 2022 2021
Annual Compensation Limit - hired before Jan. 1, 1996 - 
This limit only applies to the mandatory & voluntary 403(b) accounts.
$460,000 $440,000 $380,000 $386,666.67
Annual Compensation Limit
This limit applies to 401(a) and 403(b) mandatory and voluntary plans of employees hired after Jan. 1, 1996.
$345,000 $330,000 $305,000 $290,000
Elective Deferrals - 403(b) and 457(b) $23,000 $22,500 $20,500 $19,500
Catch-up Contributions (Age 50+) $7,500
No Change in 2024
$7,500 $6,500 $6,500
Defined Contribution Limits  $69,000 $66,000 $61,000 $58,000


Want to save more?

The University has two voluntary retirement programs that you may enroll in through your Employee Self-Service to save even more towards your retirement. 

Review our Voluntary Retirement Plan Options