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A Defined Contribution Retirement Plan


TIAA is a defined contribution University Sponsored Retirement plan. Employees who participate are issued individually owned 403(b) retirement accounts. Benefit amounts at retirement are not guaranteed and the overall benefit amount is tied to the performance of the stock market. Employee’s elect their own investments and take on the risk of the performance of the account. Learn more on the TIAA website.

If eligible, you have 60 days from the date of hire to elect a University Sponsored retirement plan.

Eligibility Criteria for TIAA

  • Active participants must hold a non-temporary appointment.

J-1 Visa Holders with a Social Security Number

  • A J-1 visa holder may only elect TIAA during the first two calendar years that they are considered a non-resident alien.
  • Once two calendar years have concluded, visa holders will have 60 days in which they can elect the IPERS (Iowa Public Employees Retirement System) plan.

Employees Meeting Eligibility Requirements for TIAA & IPERS

Once eligible for a University Sponsored retirement plan you may elect to contribute to either TIAA or IPERS.

This decision is irrevocable and will continue through your active employment at the university. If no decision is made within your enrollment time frame you will automatically be placed in IPERS.

Benefits Coverage

TIAA Benefits Coverage Effective Date
Life Event Coverage Starts
New Hire First day of employment.
Qualifying Employment Event Effective the first of the month after the event.
TIAA Benefits Coverage End Date
Life Event Coverage Ends
No Longer Eligible Effective the last day of the month the appointment is no longer eligible.
Separation of Employment Effective the last day of the separation month.

Plan Information

Overview of UNI Retirement Options - TIAA and IPERS

TIAA Contribution Rates

Your Share UNI's Share Total
Contributions 5.00% 10.00% 15.00%

TIAA contributions are based on your regular earnings, but exclude supplemental compensation such as shift pay, lead worker pay, leave payouts, overtime and bonus wages. The 2024 annual compensation limit is $345,000. This is the amount that TIAA GRA (Group Retirement Annuity) contributions are calculated on.


Vesting is a predetermined length of time an employee must satisfy to receive full benefits from the plan. The following is effective January 1, 2023*

Employee Contributions

A participant is always 100 percent vested in their contributions.

UNI Contributions

Effective January 1, 2023, any new participant will become 100 percent vested after any of the following occur during active employment:

  • Three (3) years of service. A year is defined by the service schedule for the participant’s position as noted by the appointment length in the participant’s offer letter.
  • Attainment of age 65.
  • Designated as a disabled employee.
  • Passes away.
  • UNI discontinues the plan.

*Participants enrolled in the University Sponsored TIAA Retirement plan prior to January 1, 2023 are automatically vested.


  • Your funds will automatically be placed into a target-date fund based on your retirement age.
  • You are also able to select your own investment options.
    • Visit TIAA for a list of investments, fees, and tools to help choose your investment mix.
    • Schedule a free personalized meeting with a TIAA financial consultant to assist you with electing your investment mix. TIAA consultants are available for appointments. Review the TIAA website for available dates and times.

Benefit Enrollment

Your Next Steps After Choosing to Enroll in TIAA

Before Your First Payroll Contribution

  1. Schedule a personalized investment consultation session using the online scheduler or by calling 800-732-8353 (available weekdays from 7 a.m. – 7p.m. CST). As a participant in a TIAA retirement plan, you can receive personalized investment guidance on the plan’s investment options from a TIAA financial consultant. This on-campus service is available as part of your retirement program and is at no additional cost to you.

After Your First Payroll Contribution

  1. Create your personal account at

    If you are a first-time user:

    1. Go to
    2. Plan access code - 101800
    3. From the Welcome to Enrollment with TIAA page, click Register with TIAA to create your user ID and password.
    4. Follow the prompts and print out the confirmation page. You are now enrolled.

    If you are a returning user:

    1. Enter your TIAA user ID and password and click Log In.
    2. Click on the access code link and enter code 101800
  2. Download the secure TIAA mobile app. Manage your retirement, and bank and brokerage accounts, with the free and secure mobile app for iPhone and Android. To learn more about how TIAA protects your information and accounts, visit the TIAA Security Center.
  3. Learn more about your TIAA plans on TIAA's UNI Portal.
  4. Look for future communications in the monthly UNI Benefits & Well-being newsletter. This newsletter is sent to your UNI email address the first working day of each month.

Leaving Employment Before Retirement (Under Age 55)

If you are retiring before age 55, you have several options for your TIAA contributions. You may:

  • Leave your funds in your account at TIAA.
  • Roll your funds over to another qualified retirement plan.
  • Take cash withdrawals from your account.
    • Cash withdrawals will be subject to taxation.
    • If you withdraw funds prior to age 59 ½, you may be subject to an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty.
  • For more details, visit the TIAA website, schedule an appointment with a TIAA consultant or meet with your financial professional.

Leaving Employment Due to Retirement (Over Age 55)

If you are retiring after age 55, you have several options for your TIAA contributions. You may:

  • If you retire after reaching age 55, the additional 10% early withdrawal penalty will not apply.
  • There are numerous withdrawal options to choose from including rollovers, withdrawals and annuities.
  • For more details, visit the TIAA website, schedule an appointment with a TIAA consultant or meet with your financial professional.

Retirement Tax Law

Consult with your tax advisor regarding regulatory changes to retirement plan savings and distributions. Iowa House File 2317 provides tax relief for certain retirement incomes as well as other income tax bracket adjustments. Now is a great time to meet with your financial advisor, or an IPERS or TIAA consultant, to see how the changes may impact your income and savings plans. An online request for tax guidance is also available through the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Retirees Returning to Work

TIAA Participant

  • If a retiree returns to work at UNI, and previously participated in TIAA, they cannot return in a TIAA eligible position and continue to contribute to TIAA while receiving distributions.
  • If the retiree is now participating in IPERS they cannot hold a non-temporary appointment at the university and receive TIAA distributions.

IPERS Participant

  • If a retiree returns to work, and previously participated in IPERS at UNI or another state agency, they cannot receive IPERS distributions if they earn an annual salary of $30,000 or more at any state agency.
  • It is necessary to establish a clear separation from IPERS-covered employment after retirement for retirees age 55-70.
    • For more information on retirement restrictions with IPERS members returning to work, please visit the IPERS website.

Independent Contractors

  • An employee may not return to work as an independent contractor during the bona fide retirement period. (The first four months the employee receives an IPERS retirement benefit payment)
  • The employee may not enter into a written or oral agreement to perform services as an independent contractor until at least one benefit payment has been received from IPERS.

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