Take advantage today

ORP-eligible employees at Texas public institutions of higher education may elect to participate in the Optional Retirement Program (ORP) as an alternative to TRS. 

Limited ORP Election Period
  • You have a one-time opportunity during your employment in Texas public higher education to choose between TRS and ORP.
  • You’re eligible to elect ORP on your first day of employment in an ORP-eligible position, which is your Initial ORP Eligibility Date.
  • You have 90 additional calendar days to make your election, which is your ORP Election Period.
  • You will be an active member of TRS unless and until an election of ORP is made by submitting your completed TRS-28 election form (and any other required institutional forms) to your Human Resources Office.

Starting early has its advantages

Your contributions
ORP Contribution Rates  
  Fiscal Year 2016 Fiscal Year 2017
Employee 6.65% 6.65%
Employer (base) 6.6% 6.6%
Total (minimum) 13.25% 13.25%
Optional ORP Supplement (max) * 1.9% 1.9%
Total (maximum) 15.15% 15.15%
FY16: 09/01/2015 – 08/31/2016 
FY17: 09/01/2016 – 08/31/2017
* ORP employers may provide a local ORP supplement up to 1.9% for a maximum employer contribution of 8.5%.
Note: For contribution purposes, ORP uses the same definition of compensation as TRS.
Vesting
  • Vesting refers to a participant’s ownership of employer “matching” contributions. Vesting occurs on the first day of the second year of participation, which is defined as the first day of the 13th month of active participation (i.e., making contributions by payroll deduction). The vesting period is sometimes referred to as “a year and a day.”
  • Faculty Members: A year for academic faculty members is generally nine months, so academic faculty members will be credited the three summer months for vesting provided they are participating at the end of the spring semester immediately preceding the summer and resume participation with the same or another Texas public institution of higher education at the beginning of the fall semester immediately following the same summer.
  • Participants who terminate ORP-covered employment with all institutions prior to meeting the vesting requirement must forfeit employer contributions made during that period of employment.

Exception: Unvested participants who become employed in a non-benefits-eligible position do not contribute to ORP and are not required to forfeit unvested ORP contributions unless they are subsequently employed in a TRS-only position or have a break in service.

Accessing your money before retirement

Distributions, Loans, Rollovers and Transfers
  • Terminated participants choose how and when to take distributions, including complete or periodic withdrawals and for some accounts, lifetime annuities. Early withdrawal penalties may apply.
  • ORP funds are available for withdrawal only upon termination of all employment with all Texas public institutions of higher education (unless the participant is at least age 70 ½).
  • Eligible distributions can be rolled over to eligible retirement plans such as an IRA.
  • Post-retirement cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are not available in an ORP-type plan.
  • There are no provisions in ORP to purchase service credit, transfer or roll over non-ORP  funds into the plan (including any pre-election TRS contributions) or take out a loan or financial hardship withdrawal.

Important considerations before deciding to move funds either into or out of an AIG Retirement Services account
There are many things to consider. For starters, you will want to carefully review and compare your existing account and the new account, including: fees and charges; guarantees and benefits; and, any limitations under either of the accounts. Also, you will want to know whether a surrender of your current account could result in charges. Your financial professional can help you review these and other important considerations.