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Retirement Plans: General Information


Most permanent full-time and permanent part-time employees are eligible for the retirement program. Temporary employees who are paid by the hour or the day are usually eligible to join the retirement program when they are compensated for 750 hours or 100 days in a calendar year. The final determination regarding eligibility is based upon the state retirement code as administered by SERS. Questions regarding eligibility should be addressed to the Benefits office.

Employees have 30 days from the date they first become eligible for the retirement program to make their enrollment decision. Generally, this is 30 days from the date of initial employment with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Once a retirement plan is selected and the Retirement Program Election Form completed, the decision is irrevocable. An employee can no longer enroll in one of the other retirement plans. Failure to select a retirement plan will result in the automatic enrollment in SERS.

Selecting a Plan

Selecting a retirement plan is the single most important decision a new employee makes. The three retirement plan options are very different in the way they determine an employee’s retirement benefit. Therefore, the decision made by an employee has a direct impact on the retirement income he or she will receive. The selection is even more critical because, once made, it cannot be changed.

The two state retirement plans are similar in that they determine the retirement benefit from a fixed formula that takes into consideration years of service, age, and final average salary. The plans invest all the contributions and pay benefits from the total pool of plan assets. The benefit amount is guaranteed and not affected by the investment earnings of the plan.

If you were a member of SERS prior to January 1, 2011, or PSERS prior to July 1, 2011, the retirement benefit is 100 percent vested once an employee has five years of credited service. Employess hired after January 1, 2011, enrolled in SERS or after July 1, 2011, for PSERS need 10 years of credited service to be vested. When employees leave the university, they can remove their own contributions. If the employee is vested, he/she is entitled to the current value of the retirement benefit calculated by the formula. It also is possible to purchase other service, including military service, which will add to the total credited service used in the formula.

The ARP works very differently in the way it calculates retirement income. Employee and employer contributions are paid to the employee’s account. Employees make the investment decisions about their account. The benefit is determined by the employee’s account balance, which is made up of all contributions received plus any investment earnings.

If the investments perform well, the employee can earn a higher benefit. If they perform poorly, the benefit would be lower. The employee accepts any risk associated with the investments. The retirement benefit is 100 percent vested immediately. If employees leave employment, they are entitled to the full value of their account.

Information about the Plans

SERS and PSERS are administered by state agencies, which are responsible for providing services related to those plans. Employees are encouraged to seek detailed information on these options by contacting SERS and PSERS. The ARP is administered by PASSHE and is explained in the ARP information provided by your university human resource office. In addition, employees may visit the PASSHE ARP website, which provides links to the various retirement plan providers.

Additional Information

PASSHE Retirement Program

  • Human Resources Office
  • Sutton Hall, Room G8
    1011 South Drive
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2431
  • Fax: 724-357-2685
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.