Mandatory Retirement Plan

Eligible University employees have the choice between two retirement plan vendors, Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) or the University Funded Retirement Plan through Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA). 

Both the University and the employee will contribute to the mandatory retirement plan. 


If you are eligible to participate in the mandatory retirement plan, you will receive email communication from University Benefits instructing you to complete your election in Employee Self Service. If you do not receive an email within the first week of employment, your position is not currently eligible to participate or you may not have had 31 days or more break in service. 

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

New Hires

Newly hired faculty and staff members, hired into a retirement-eligible appointment, who are not currently participating in one of the University retirement plans, may choose to participate in either plan, IPERS or TIAA.

IPERS is the default 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.

Previous Employee

  • 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.
  • Suppose the employee does not have a 31 day or more break in service and comes back 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. 


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. If you do not log in to Employee Self Service and make your retirement election within 60 days of your hire/eligibility date. In that case, you will automatically be enrolled in the IPERS retirement plan.


The IPERS plan is a Defined Benefit plan and retirement income is determined by a formula based on your years of service and salary earned.

Plan Details 


The TIAA plan is a Defined Contribution plan and retirement income depends upon your individual retirement investment returns.

Plan Details

How to Make Your Retirement Election

After you have done your research and read all of the information, you should be ready to select your retirement plan.

  1. Please log in to Employee Self Service 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. If you would like to change that selection, choose the box that is labeled TIAA and submit your choice to the Benefits Office. If you would like to remain in IPERS, you will not have to do anything further.
This is an irrevocable one-time selection and must be done within 60 days of your hire/eligibility date.

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

Your Paycheck

Retirement plan contributions will begin on the first paycheck. If your retirement plan 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, IPERS contributions will be refunded to the employee and employer, and TIAA contributions will begin on the following paycheck.

Other Ways to Save

It is never too early or too late to start saving for your future. The University has two voluntary retirement plans that you may enroll in through Employee Self Service to contribute before-tax and/or after-tax contributions (over and above required contributions) within IRS guidelines. These savings plans can be started, stopped, or changed at any time during the year. Please note: the University of Iowa does not contribute to these plans.

  1. Voluntary Retirement Savings Program (VRSP) 403(b) 
  2. Deferred Compensation Plan 457(b) with TIAA

To review both plans, contribution limits, and how to enroll, please visit Voluntary Plan Options.

Have a Question?

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ABOUT OUR SITE: The information presented on our website describes only the highlights of the plans and does not constitute official plan documents. Additional terms and conditions apply. If there are any discrepancies between the information contained herein and the official plan documents, the plan documents will govern.