Pension benefits are provided to you when you are employed in a qualifying position.   As an eligible academic or academic administrative employee of the Oregon Public Universities you will have a choice between two employer-paid pension programs.

Exceptions:

  • Employees of the University on an Educational Visa (J-1, F-1, etc) are not eligible to participate in the retirement programs per Oregon Revised Statute 238.015(4) and Oregon Administrative Rule 459.010.0025(1).
  • Employees that are not subject to Oregon taxes (includes those not living or working in Oregon and Foreign Nationals), will only earn retirement credit (years of service) under the OPSRP pension program.  At retirement the OPSRP pension calculation for Average Ending Salary will only include salary subject to Oregon taxes (contributions to the IAP account will only be made if salary is subject to Oregon taxes).  Important Notice PERS-OPSRP.

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY – DISCLAIMER

The information on this website and in the ORP Decision Making Guide provides an overview of the OPSRP/PERS and the ORP. The descriptions of OPSRP and PERS benefits are based on Oregon Public Universities Retirement Plans' (OPURP) and PERS’ understanding of applicable legislation, as amended and as affected by judicial decisions. In addition, PERS regularly adopts administrative rules to implement legislative changes. The descriptions of OPSRP and PERS benefits are therefore subject to modification and/or clarification by new legislation, court decisions, and PERS’ administrative rulemaking.

In case of conflict between this website or the guide and the official plan documents of the ORP and Oregon state law regulating OPSRP/PERS, the official plan documents, Oregon state law, and federal regulations will govern.

Qualifying position

  • PERS/OPSRP = Is a position that is expected to complete the six month waiting period and is expected to work at least 600 hours in the calendar year.
  • ORP Tier 4 = 0.3 FTE/12-mo appointment; or 0.4 FTE/9-mo (academic) appointment; or Fixed-Term appts that are more than 9 and less than 12 months and Non-Fixed Term appts if employee works at least 50 hrs/mo in each of the first 6 months of the initial waiting period.

Program Membership Tiers

Membership tier is based on an employee’s original eligibility date with an Oregon Public University or a PERS participating employer and their current membership status.

  • ORP Tier 4 or PERS/OPSRP – hired on or after July 1, 2014
  • ORP Tier 3 or PERS/OPSRP – hired on or after August 29, 2003
  • ORP Tier 2 or PERS Tier 2 – hired between January 1, 1996 and August 28, 2003
  • ORP Tier 1 or PERS Tier 1 – hired on or prior to December 31, 1995

Choice between two employer-paid pension programs after six months

Option #1:  PERS/OPSRP pension program is administered by the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).  PERS manages the OPSRP pension, PERS pension, and the Individual Account Program (IAP) for eligible public employees.  Investment of the program funds are managed under the direction of the Oregon Investment Council for the Oregon State Treasury.  The program has two components:

  • OPSRP and PERS component of the pension program is a defined benefit plan and is funded by OSU and provides a lifetime pension benefit;

PLUS

  • IAP component of the pension program is a defined contribution plan and is funded by a 6% member contribution, which OSU currently pays for you**.  The 6% contribution is made on wages/salary subject to Oregon taxes; and the amount of compensation used for this contribution calculation is limited as outlined in the ORP Plan Highlights. This limit is periodically adjusted for cost-of-living increases.  Your account is credited with earnings/losses annually based on investment returns.  At retirement, the funds can be withdrawn as a lump-sum payment or in installments.  It is not a lifetime benefit.

*Employees that are not subject to Oregon taxes (includes those not living or working in Oregon and Foreign Nationals), will only earn retirement credit (years of service) under the OPSRP pension program.  At retirement the OPSRP pension calculation for Average Ending Salary will only include salary subject to Oregon taxes.

**Contributions begin after serving a full six month waiting period in a qualifying position. July 1, 2020. For PERS 0.75% of 6% IAP for OPSRP is re-directed to a PERS EPSA account to support employee's future pension. For PERS Tier 1 and 2 a total of 2.5% is re-directed to a PERS EPSA account to support the employee's future pension.

Option #2: Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is administered by Oregon Public University Retirement Program (OPURP) through Fidelity Investments or TIAA.  This program is a defined contribution plan and is participant-directed (you select the investments).  Your account is credited with earnings/losses based on your investment returns.  At retirement, you will work directly with TIAA or Fidelity to withdraw, roll, or take distributions from your account.  Does not provide a guaranteed lifetime benefit.  ORP Tier 4 benefits (employees hired on or after July 1, 2014) are:

  • Employer contribution of 8%

PLUS

  • Up to a 4% employer match if you participate in the voluntary retirement savings Tax Deferred Investment (TDI) 403(b) program through TIAA or Fidelity

If you are an Oregon PERS member at the time of hire, your ORP tier may be the same as your PERS tier.  Contact the Office of Human Resources (541-737-2805) for tier placement.

Important Note about Contribution Limits:  The ORP is a Defined Contribution Plan and is subject to IRS limits on contributions. The current IRS limits can be found in the ORP Plan Highlights. Contributions made to the Tax-Deferred Investment (TDI) 403(b) Plan are subject to limits of that plan. When planning your TDI contributions, pay careful attention to the limits applicable to the TDI Plan. ORP Employer Match contributions will only be paid on a per-pay-period frequency based on TDI contributions made during that month. (e.g. you will receive ORP Employer Match contributions only if you make a TDI contribution during the month.)

PERS OPSRP to ORP Transfer

If you are a current PERS member, this is your one-time irrevocable choice to remain a PERS member at your current tier (for university service) OR to transfer to the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) program. Your ORP Tier will be Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3, if you are a current PERS member and your membership was established with another PERS employer OR you were employed by OSU in a retirement eligible position prior to July 1, 2014. Any vested OPSRP member who elects to transfer their PERS IAP account to ORP, whether vested or not-vested, will forfeit any rights they may have to an OPSRP pension.*

Examples:

  • Members who elect ORP with choice, are vested in the PERS OSPRP, and whose benefit present value is $5,000 or less:
    • A vested member that transfers their IAP account to ORP is considered a terminated PERS member. The member forfeits all rights in OPSRP and no present value amount of the OPSRP pension will be transferred (even if the value is $5,000 or less).
  • Members who elect ORP with choice, are vested in the PERS OSPRP, and whose benefit present value is more than $5,000:
    • A vested member that transfers their IAP account to ORP is considered a terminated PERS member. The member forfeits all rights in OPSRP, no present value amount of the OPSRP pension will be transferred (even if the value is $5,000 or less), and will be considered an in-active PERS member.
  • Members who elect ORP with choice and are not vested in the PERS OSPRP:
    • A non-vested member that elects ORP is considered a terminated PERS member and forfeits all rights in OPSRP.

PERS: 1 888 320 7377, https://www.oregon.gov/pers/Pages/index.aspx
ORP Plan Administrators: 541 346 5784, https://www.opurp.org/

*Effective July 1, 2020 (ORS 243.815(6) - An administrative or academic employee who elects to participate in the Optional Retirement Plan, and who is a vested member of the pension program of the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan as described in ORS 238A.115 on the date that the election becomes effective, shall be considered an inactive member of the pension program by the Public Employees Retirement Board as of the effective date of the election. A member who is subject to the provisions of this paragraph retains all the rights, privileges and options of an inactive member of the pension program, unless the member makes a written request to the Public Employees Retirement Board for a transfer of the amounts credited to the member accounts of the member established under ORS 238A.350 and 238A.353 to the Optional Retirement Plan. The request must be made at the time the member elects to participate in the Optional Retirement Plan. Upon receiving the request, the Public Employees Retirement Board shall transfer the amounts credited to the member accounts of the member established under ORS 238A.350 and 238A.353 directly to the Optional Retirement Plan in the manner provided by subsection (7) of this section, and shall terminate the membership of the employee in the Public Employees Retirement System.

PERS OPSRP to ORP Transfer information is provided for your convenience only. For complete details, please contact PERS and/or the ORP Plan Administrators. Handout compiled from information provided by the ORP Plan Administrators and PERS. Any errors, if any, are unintentional.

Disclaimer:  Information may change as the result of administrative, legislative or judicial decisions.

Making Your Pension Program Election

  • Pension program election must be made by the time you complete six months of service 
  • This is an irrevocable one-time election and will be in effect at all Oregon Public Universities 
  • You will need to complete and return the election form.  You will receive an email with further instructions during your fourth month of employment
  • You will be “defaulted” into the PERS/OSPRP program if you do not return the election form

Pension Contributions

  • Must be in a qualifying position
  • Contributions begin
    • New to Oregon Public Universities & PERS system – contributions will begin after serving the six full month waiting period
    • PERS employee NEW to Oregon Public Universities – PERS contributions will begin immediately and your PERS tier remains the same.  After six months, contributions will be made to the pension program you select (PERS/OPSRP or ORP).
    • Current or returning unclassified emloyee to Oregon Public Universities - contributions will begin immediately to the pension program you previously selected (if eligible - e.g., did not withdraw from program)
    • University PERS employee NEW to Unclassified position - PERS contributions will continue; after six months, contributions will be made to the pension program you select (PERS or ORP).  If your PERS membership was established through your University employment and you elect to participate in the ORP program, your ORP tier will be determined by your employment date with the University:
      • Employed on or after July 1, 2014, your ORP tier will be ORP Tier 4
      • Employed prior to July 1, 2014, your OPR tier will be the same as your PERS tier
  • Amount of contributions
    • PERS/OPSRP Program
      • IAP account - OSU currently pays the employee’s 6% contribution for you*
      • OPSRP or PERS program - OSU pays an employer contribution that goes into an employer account to fund the PERS or OPSRP pension benefit for eligible employees
    • ORP Program
      • Please see the “Contributions” section of the Decision Making Guide for contribution amounts based on Tier.

*Contributions begin after serving a full six month waiting period in a qualifying position. July 1, 2020. For PERS 0.75% of 6% IAP for OPSRP is re-directed to a PERS EPSA account to support employee's future pension. For PERS Tier 1 and 2 a total of 2.5% is re-directed to a PERS EPSA account to support the employee's future pension.

Vesting

PERS Programs (Tier 1, Tier 2, OPSRP, IAP)

  • Individual Account Program (IAP) - employee account:  100% vested once membership is established
  • OPSRP or PERS program (Employer account)
    • OPSRP after completing at least 600 hours of service in each of five calendar years or upon reaching “normal” retirement age (age 65) while actively employed in a qualifying position
    • PERS program (Tier 1 or Tier 2) – active member in each of five years

Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) - Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4

  • Employee Account - Tiers 1, 2, 3
    • 100% vested once membership is established
  • Employer Match Account - Tier 4 only
    • 100% vested once membership is established
  • Employer Account - Tiers 1, 2, 3, and 4
    • Contributions in five calendar years or at age 50 while employed

Resources

Defined Benefit Plan =  pension benefit at retirement is based on a predetermined formula (years of service and average ending salary).  This is a lifetime benefit paid in monthly installments.

Defined Contribution = pension benefit at retirement is based on the contributions to the plan plus any investment earnings.  This is not a lifetime benefit.