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October 27, 2016

Staff Matters

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Curious if you’re on track for a comfortable retirement? Uncertain about how to advance your professional development? Wondering if there is a Pitt discount available for a large purchase you’re considering? This column aims to answer your Human Resources questions. This week we address retirement savings.

I am in the University’s defined contribution program. Do I have access to a financial adviser at TIAA? 

If you participate in University of Pittsburgh’s retirement savings plan, you have access to the resources that TIAA offers to faculty and staff.  You can access these resources, including online tools and calculators, by logging onto, clicking the My Resources tab, selecting Human Resources from the dropdown menu, then clicking on the Retirement Saving Plan Access link in the top right corner of the page.

Additionally, at no cost, you have access to a group of certified financial advisers from the TIAA Pittsburgh office. Advisers are available for private appointments each month on the Pittsburgh campus; advisers also periodically visit the regional campuses. In addition to providing fund-level advice on investment in both TIAA and Vanguard, financial advisers can help you:

• Enroll in or make changes to the retirement savings plan.

• Determine how to maximize your contributions to the plan.

• Add or change a beneficiary to your account.

You can schedule an appointment by calling TIAA at 412-365-3000 or online at

TIAA also offers free personalized advice and planning for more complex needs through their Individual Advisory Services (formally known as Wealth Management).  Services available include enhanced financial planning, estate planning, analysis of charitable giving, education savings strategies, life insurance analysis and preparation of cash flow projections that are aligned to your future goals.  Your financial adviser will determine if Individual Advisory Services will better suit your needs.

How often should I meet with a TIAA financial adviser? 

TIAA financial advisers will meet with you as often as necessary.  For faculty and staff nearing retirement age, this may be more frequently than for someone just beginning their career.  It is recommended that as you near retirement, you meet with a TIAA representative annually.

Do I have to wait until benefits open enrollment to make changes to my retirement saving plan? 

No, faculty and staff are able to make changes to their retirement plan at any time.  If you want to change the amount you are contributing to your retirement plan, you can do so online as often as monthly.  All changes to the plan must be submitted the month prior to the effective date. For example, if you want an increase to your contribution rate effective with your November paycheck, you must submit the change online by Oct. 31 if you are paid monthly.  To access your retirement contribution rate, log onto your account, click the My Resources tab, select Human Resources from the dropdown menu, then click on the Retirement Saving Plan Access link in the top right corner of the page.

Other changes to your retirement account, including updating your asset allocation, changing your beneficiaries and investing prior contributions into different funds, can be made on a daily basis through your online account.  Additional information about making changes to your account can be found at

I am going to resign/retire from the University. Can I leave my money in the University’s retirement savings plan?  

Yes, you may keep your savings in the University of Pittsburgh retirement plan.  There are four options once you are no longer working at the University:

• Leave your money in the University of Pittsburgh retirement savings plan.

• Roll over your money directly into an IRA.

• Roll over your money directly into your new employer’s retirement plan (if applicable).

• Withdraw your money in cash. (This option may have an IRS penalty associated with it if you are under the age of 59½.)

There are pros and cons to each option.  We recommend that you meet with a financial adviser to discuss these options before taking any action.

How do I maximize contributions to my retirement savings plan?

Full-time faculty and staff are eligible to obtain a University matching contribution of up to 8 percent of their base salary.  Once you are fully vested, you are eligible to receive a 12 percent matching contribution from the University if you are contributing 8 percent. If you are not contributing the full 8 percent and would like to do so, find out how at

Each year the IRS publishes the maximum amount that an employee can contribute to a retirement account on a pre-tax basis.  Employees under the age of 50 can contribute up to $18,000 per calendar year, and employees over the age of 50 can contribute up to $24,000 per calendar year on a pre-tax basis.

All contributions an employee makes from their paycheck will count toward these maximum amounts. This includes the basic 8 percent contribution plus any supplemental contributions that you may make to the plan.

If you want to contribute the maximum that the IRS allows, you are able to do so at any time during the year. It is recommended that you make these elections at the beginning of a calendar year so your paycheck can support the deductions.

If you work for more than one employer and are contributing to more than one retirement plan, it is your responsibility to make sure you do not exceed the IRS limits or you may face penalties.

Have a question you’d like answered by the Office of Human Resources in an upcoming issue? Email your questions to Employees’ names will not be published.

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