Rice University encourages you to plan and save for your future and the university offers several options to help you accomplish your personal retirement goals.
In addition to a defined contribution plan into which Rice puts money aside for your retirement, we encourage employees to save through payroll deductions as well. Rice has two voluntary savings plans: the 403(b) available to all employees, and the 457(b) plan, available to all employees whose compensation is at least 140% of the social security wage base of $160,200. In 2023, that number is $225,000 per year. Since 2013, all newly hired benefits-eligible Rice employees have been automatically set up to defer 4% of their salaries into the 403(b) plan. Employees who wish to opt out of this arrangement or increase their savings level can do so at any time.
The fiduciaries for Rice’s retirement plans are the members of the Retirement Plan Investment Committee (RPIC), which was established by a resolution of the Board of Trustees in 2011. The committee is chaired by the Associate Vice President for Human Resources and includes a member of the Rice faculty, the Director of Benefits, and two members of the Rice Management Company staff. A Senior Associate General Counsel serves in an ex-officio capacity. The committee’s duty is to plan participants and beneficiaries.
The RPIC chose CAPTRUST to advise on the selection and monitoring of the performance and fees of investment options available to participants in the retirement plans.
The committee meets regularly and occasionally revises the investment offerings in accordance with the Investment Policy Statement that they developed. Investment offerings can change depending on a number of factors including investment performance and fees, and new regulatory requirements. For a copy of the Investment Policy Statement, please contact the benefits department at Benefits@rice.edu or by calling 713-348-2363.
As with all important financial matters, it is important for you to understand your retirement plan. Part of that includes investment fees. You will receive an annual notice from Rice with information about the investment fees charged as part of the retirement plan. Please visit the Department of Labor website for additional information on Understanding Your Retirement Plan Fees.
Rice provides these services to assist plan participants in saving for retirement:
Personal Retirement consultation in a one on one setting, either on-site at Rice locations or nearby in the community at no cost to you:
TIAA: Click or make an appointment by calling 800-732-8353
Fidelity Investments: Click or make an appointment by calling 800-343-0860
Online Tools and Calculators are also available to help you think about your savings level
Retirement Plan Investment Choices
There are three tiers of funds available to participants, and the RPIC regularly monitors the performance and fees of the funds in the first two tiers:
Low-cost Vanguard Target Date Funds with varying allocations of stocks and bonds depending on a participant’s expected year of retirement at age 65,
Mutual funds and annuities representing the various Morningstar boxes, including low-cost index funds, and
A brokerage window through which some participants can choose any mutual fund available through plan administrators TIAA and Fidelity.
For details on which plans are offered, their historical performance, and many other characteristics, please visit the plan websites:
Retirement Plan Record Keeper
Currently, Rice offers TIAA and Fidelity Investments as record-keepers for the Rice Retirement Plan. Should you not have a preference for a record-keeper, your default record-keeper will be Fidelity. If you prefer Fidelity to be your record-keeper, no action is needed on your part. If you prefer TIAA as your record-keeper, you must use the net benefits website to make that designation. For both record-keepers, the default investment is the age-appropriate Vanguard Institutional Target Fund.
- Rice Retiree Benefits
Being a retiree of Rice carries with it some valuable benefits. To determine if you are eligible to be a Rice retiree, the tab below lists some details, including Rice’s retiree definition and some benefits of being considered a Rice retiree.
Rice Retiree Definition and Benefits
Retirees are individuals who leave the University's employ at the conclusion of a minimum of ten consecutive years of benefits-eligible service and for whom the sum of age and length of service is at least 65.
Being a retiree of Rice University entitles an individual to certain benefits and privileges that may change from time to time. Examples of such privileges are:
Participation at their cost in the University Medical Plans for non-Medicare-eligible retirees and dependents covered at the time of retirement according to conditions set by the insurance carriers and the University
The opportunity to audit courses at Rice and remission of tuition for dependents as provided by the relevant policies
Membership in the Faculty Club at the Cohen House, with approval of the Faculty Club Board
Use of Rec Center facilities, with membership
Rice University "Faculty/Staff, Retired" identification cards for the retiree and spouse
Book check-out privileges at Fondren Library with Rice University "Faculty/Staff, Retired" identification card
Special rates on season tickets to Rice athletic events as issued by the Athletic Department
University Faculty/Staff Directory listing under the appropriate heading
Regular faculty/staff discounts on non-credit School of Continuing Studies courses
Access to the Internet and e-mail with a Rice account according to established procedures in Information Technology
Retirees who have served 20 years or more or deceased faculty and staff who meet the same criterion are further recognized by a plaque positioned under a campus tree dedicated in their honor. Non-Medicare-eligible covered dependents of deceased employees who would have qualified for retiree benefits may continue purchasing Rice group health insurance coverage as dependents of deceased retirees.
Rice Retiree Benefits
One highly valued benefit of being a retiree is free parking in any lot on the Rice campus! This makes it easy for you to maintain academic and social connections with the University when you retire. Once you retire, you will need to go to the Parking Office to have your parking access card re-coded for retiree status. You will also receive a new sticker for your car. Please note that parking is made available strictly to those retirees who wish to maintain a relationship with the campus and participate in campus intellectual and social life. This is not intended for regular daily parking, for example, to allow a former employee to have free parking pursuant to employment in The Texas Medical Center.
Many university tuition benefits apply to Rice retirees. You can find out more about them under the Tuition Benefits portion of this website.
Rice’s retiree health plans are the same plans offered to active employees but with different premiums and associated costs. To view the current premium rates, please visit the Rates, Resources, and Government Notices page. If you have questions about your retiree coverage, Aetna concierge can help you just like they help active employees. You can reach them at 1-800-905-7670. Rice retirees enrolled in our plans have an annual enrollment period every year, just as active faculty and staff have. This is typically held in May of each year, with changes effective July 1.
If you did not elect to enroll in retiree benefits within 30 days of your retirement from the university, you have missed the opportunity to enroll, and you may NOT enroll at a later date. If you decide to drop the Rice retirement plan at a later date, you will not be permitted to rejoin the plan.
You should begin your retiree medical coverage options exploration at least three (3) months ahead of your retirement date. This includes contacting Medicare and Social Security to initiate their processes.
If you have questions about your retirement funds, please contact TIAA or Fidelity Investments directly about these benefits.
Retirees eligible for Medicare (Post-65 or due to disability)
Medicare-eligible retirees will be eligible to use a service called “Via Benefits” to help them find Medicare Supplements that work for them. They will have many more choices in coverage levels and many more price points to consider than they have had previously. There are also dental and vision plans to choose from. Via Benefits provides licensed, professional Benefit Advisors, to work with you to select the right Medicare Supplement for you. Retirees will receive an enrollment guide from Via Benefits when it is time for them to make their enrollment decisions. Retirees will pay for their Medicare Supplement coverage directly to the insurance carrier(s) they select. Via Benefits Benefit Advisors can help you with the process of setting up automatic payments to the carrier.
Retirees not eligible for Medicare (Pre-65) and eligible dependents not eligible for Medicare (Pre-65)
Via Benefits will be the resource for finding all retiree dental and vision coverage. For pre-65 retirees and eligible pre-65 dependents, we will continue to provide the active medical plan through Aetna and ExpressScripts. Payment for this coverage will continue to be made to Wage Works/Health Equity.
For future retirees, information will be sent to your home from Via Benefits once your retirement date is entered into the payroll system. To ensure timely communication, please make sure your department sends in your termination form as soon as possible.
Staying Connected to Rice After Retiring
You may want to continue volunteering at Rice and stay involved with students. Here are Rice-affiliated volunteer opportunities.
We, of course, have a lot of exciting sports on campus (and away), so be sure to stay on top of Rice Athletics.
Do you need to update your address or other contact information at Rice? Be sure to call Human Resources at 713-648-2232 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to receive the "ALLDEPTS" email that is sent out to faculty and staff, click here and follow the steps to enroll. These emails often contain information on free lectures and events at Rice.
The Rice Calendar website also lists a lot of the events that are happening at Rice. You might also enjoy visiting Rice Gallery.
If you have any additional questions, please contact a member of Human Resources.
- 401(a) Rice Retirement Plan
Rice University sponsors the William Marsh Rice University Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (the “Retirement Plan”, a plan qualified under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code) for the benefits-eligible faculty and staff members 21 years of age and older.
Contributions are automatically made for each eligible employee following each paycheck to TIAA or Fidelity Investments, starting 6 months from the date of hire or the date of benefits eligibility, whichever comes later.
To select your 401(a) recordkeeper, visit the net benefits website. This user guide may be helpful for navigating the site.
You are vested in the retirement plan after the completion of three years (3) of service.
The university contributes to each individual account an amount determined according to the following schedule:
Salary Under Age 50 Age 50+ Within Social Security Wage Base 7% 10% Above Social Security Wage Base An additional 5% for compensation over the Social Security Wage Base (SSWB). The SSWB for 2023 is $160,200. The 2023 employee compensation limit for calculating contributions is $330,000. An additional 5% for compensation over the Social Security Wage Base (SSWB). The SSWB for 2023 is $160,200. The 2023 employee compensation limit for calculating contributions is $330,000.
For more information, please refer to the Retirement Plan Summary Plan Description or the full Retirement Plan Document and amendment effective November 1, 2020.
Please review the following notice: 401(a) Summary Annual Report
Please review the following notice: Notice to Interested Parties; Defined Contribution Retirement Plan
Change Your Record Keeper
If you do not make a selection for your retirement plan record keeper, your default record keeper is Fidelity. If you are a re-hire, previously had TIAA and you want to have new contributions go to TIAA, you must make that election on the net benefits website. If you want to change your plan record keeper, complete the online request through the net benefits website. This user guide may be helpful.
The default investments for each administrator are the age-based Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement funds. If you want to change your investment election, you will do that directly with the plan record keeper via the website links below.
Information and forms for your TIAA account can be found on TIAA's Rice Microsite.
Information and forms for your Fidelity account, or to set up your account with Fidelity Investments, visit (http://www.netbenefits.com/rice).
Note that the Rice Retirement Plan funds are held in separate accounts from 403(b) plan funds.
Your investment choices include mutual funds from many different asset classes as well as an investment window. Read about this in the Investment Window tab below.
Change Your Beneficiary
To change your beneficiary with TIAA, please visit the TIAA member website. You can change beneficiaries for both the 403b and the 401a here. To change your beneficiary with Fidelity, visit the Fidelity website. You can change beneficiaries for both the 403b and 401a here.
Complimentary Retirement Planning Services
Both TIAA and Fidelity offer free investment advice and retirement counseling
For an on-site one-on-one appointment with a Fidelity representative, you may call 800-642-7131. Fidelity also has local offices that can also assist you. To schedule an appointment with a member of the Texas Medical Center office of Fidelity Investments, call 800-418-6821 or 800-367-7516. You can also manage your account online at https://www.netbenefits.com/rice (click on "New User Registration" to create your account).
To make a one-on-one appointment with a TIAA representative to review your investments and/or plan for retirement, please go to: http://www.tiaa-cref.org/moc. Log in to your TIAA account (or register as a first-time user and then log in) and view available dates, times, and locations for an appointment with a TIAA counselor. You can also contact the TIAA Houston office directly by phone at (832) 681-7400 (local) or (866) 842-2951 (toll-free). You can manage your account online at https://www.tiaa.org/public/ (click "Sign up for access" near the log-in link to create your account—you will need your contract number to enroll).
If you are not satisfied with the current line-up of funds, or if you are seeking a particular mutual or sector fund, you can also use the Investment Window (or brokerage account). Both TIAA and Fidelity have this option, which will allow you to invest in any mutual fund that is available on that administrator's platform. Keep in mind that Rice will only report on fees and expenses for the Vanguard Institutional Target Funds and the funds identified under each administrator. In a defined contribution plan, it is ultimately your responsibility to monitor and choose funds that meet your particular needs and goals. We are providing you with a reasonable list from which to choose, and you also have the ultimate flexibility to choose any available mutual fund on each administrator's platform. The list is available on the TIAA or Fidelity website.
- 403(b) Supplemental Retirement
Rice University offers all paid employees the opportunity to contribute to a 403(b). If the salary reduction is made with pre-tax dollars, the earnings accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. If the salary reduction is made on a post-tax basis in a Roth 403(b), the salary reduction and growth are not taxable when you withdraw them. You choose how to invest the funds based on your risk tolerance. Please be sure to review and choose your investment options and designate a beneficiary (see below) for your investments.
For the calendar year 2023, you may contribute up to $22,500 if below age 50 for the entire calendar year. If you are 50+ at any time during the calendar year, you may contribute an additional $7,500 for a maximum contribution of $30,000.
You may be eligible for a different type of “catch-up” provision if you have at least 15 years of employment service with the university. By law, we are required to count any age 50+ contributions toward your catch-up contributions before they are counted as age 50+ contributions. Contact a member of your Benefits Team for more information.
Please review the 403 (b) plan document for more details about the plan. Please review the latest 403(b) Plan Summary Annual Report.
Rice offers the choice of two administrators for your SRA contributions:
Fidelity Investments (800-343-0860)
Auto-enrollment in the 403(b) Plan
All new and re-hired faculty and staff will be automatically enrolled in the pre-tax 403(b) plan with a 4% contribution rate if no other election is made within 30 days.
You may opt-out of this enrollment when you complete your new hire paperwork, or at any time thereafter, with changes effective on the next paycheck. If you wish to contribute more or less to the plan, you may make this election by visiting the net benefits website
If you are not satisfied with the investment line-up, or if you are seeking a particular mutual or sector fund, you can also use the Investment Window (or brokerage account). Both TIAA and Fidelity have this option, which will allow you to invest in any mutual fund that is available on that administrator's platform. Keep in mind that Rice will only report on fees and expenses for the Vanguard Institutional Target Fund and the funds identified under each administrator. In a defined contribution plan, it is ultimately your responsibility to monitor and choose funds that meet your particular needs and goals. We are providing you with a reasonable list from which to choose, and you also have the ultimate flexibility to choose any available mutual fund on each administrator's platform.
Enroll in the Plan
As of January 1, 2013, all new hires are auto-enrolled in the pre-tax option at 4% of your salary if no other election is made.
To enroll in the 403(b) and or change your current election, you will need to visit the netbenefits website. This user guide may be helpful. If you wish to designate your beneficiary and investment options at the time the account is created, please also complete your application for either:
Click on the "TIAA" or the "Fidelity Investments" link above for the electronic application that you may complete to set up your account.
Rolling Funds Into Your Account
You may roll in funds from another qualified retirement account into your Rice 403(b) account. You should set up your account directly with TIAA or Fidelity Investments and then initiate the paperwork with the respective provider.
Loans and Hardship Withdrawals
The 403(b) plan allows loans and hardship withdrawals, based on IRS regulations.
Loans are available from both TIAA and Fidelity. For more information regarding loans, please contact your recordkeeper, TIAA or Fidelity.
More information on the IRS hardship provisions can be found on the Retirement Plans FAQs page on the IRS website.
It is wise to build up a separate savings account to use for emergencies, since retirement plan funds are not easily accessible, and should only be accessed in a dire emergency!
Change Your Election
You may change or terminate elections as often as every pay period. To do so, visit the net benefits website. This user guide may be helpful
To change your investment allocation, please contact the recordkeeper directly (see contact information above).
Change of Beneficiary
To change your TIAA beneficiary, please go to TIAA.org and complete the online beneficiary designation.
To change your Fidelity beneficiary, please go to Fidelity.com and complete the online beneficiary designation.
Complimentary Retirement Planning Services
To schedule a meeting with a Fidelity representative on campus, go to www.fidelity.com/atwork/reservations or call 1-800-642-7131.
To schedule an appointment with a member of the Texas Medical Center office of Fidelity Investments, call 800-418-6821 or 800-367-7516. You can also manage your account online at https://www.netbenefits.com/rice (click on "New User Registration" to create your account).
To make a one-on-one appointment with a TIAA representative to review your investments and/or plan for retirement, please go to https://www.tiaa.org/public/tcm/rice.
You can also contact the TIAA Houston office directly by phone at 832-681-7400 (local) or 866-842-2951 (toll-free).
You can manage your account online at https://www.tiaa.org/public/index.html (click "Sign up for access" near the log-in link to create your account — you will need your contract number to enroll).
- 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan
Rice University offers eligible employees the opportunity to contribute to a 457(b) deferred compensation. In order to be eligible, an employee must be earning at least 140% of the Social Security Wage Base ($160,200), or $225,000.
The deferral of compensation is made with pre-tax dollars and the earnings accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. You choose how to invest the funds based on your risk tolerance. Please be sure to review and choose your investment options (currently TIAA is the only administrator for this plan) and designate a beneficiary (see below) for your investments. You may select from the investment choices for Rice’s 457 plan or may use the investment window (See below)
Please review the plan’s Frequently Asked Questions to learn about the unique features of this plan, and how it compares to our other retirement plan options.
For the calendar year 2023, you may contribute up to $22,500 in deferred compensation, but we encourage you to maximize your 403(b) contributions prior to contributing to your 457(b) deferred compensation plan. Please see the FAQs for details on the risks of a 457(b) plan contribution.
A special catch-up contribution limit allows participants within three years of attaining their normal retirement age to contribute an extra amount if they contributed less than their allowable maximum in earlier years. For these participants, the maximum amount is the lesser of:
twice the annual limit, or
the annual limit, plus the total amount of underutilized contributions from prior years.
Contact a member of the Benefits Team for more information, including the calculation of the normal retirement age.
Please review the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan Document 2013 for more details about the plan.
Rice offers TIAA (800-842-2776) as the administrator for your 457(b) deferred compensation contributions.
Enroll in the Plan
To enroll in the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan, you will need to visit the Netbenefits website and, if you wish to designate your beneficiary and investment options at the time the account is created, please also do so at your provider website, either TIAA or Fidelity.
If you are not satisfied with these current selections, or if you are seeking a particular mutual or sector fund, you can also use the Investment Window (or brokerage account). This option will allow you to invest in any mutual fund that is available on that administrator's platform. Keep in mind that Rice will only report fees and expenses for the Vanguard Institutional Target Fund and the funds identified above under each administrator. It is ultimately your responsibility to monitor and choose funds that meet your particular needs and goals. We are providing you with a reasonable list from which to choose, and you also have the ultimate flexibility to choose any available mutual fund on each administrator's platform.
Faculty Phased Retirement Program (FPRP)
The Faculty Phased Retirement Plan allows participating faculty to move gradually toward retirement by phasing down their teaching and service responsibilities over a three-year period. Listed and linked below, are documents that describe the Faculty Phased Retirement Plan.
Many factors shape a decision to retire, and we have worked with Human Resources to provide a variety of resources, including financial planning resources, for those considering retirement. If you are interested in learning more about retirement (including both traditional full retirement and the Faculty Phased Retirement Plan), please contact your Department Chair, your Dean, or the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.
- Plan Document
- Plan Summary
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Election and Agreement Form (without Attachment A)
- Sabbatical Salary Calculator Spreadsheet
Faculty Phased Retirement Plan Guidelines
- Eligibility: Tenured faculty who will be between 62 and 70 years of age and have at least 10 years of continuous service*at Rice as of August 15 in the calendar year they commence the program are eligible to participate.
- Sign-up period: There is a sign-up period each year beginning November 1 through April 30. Eligible faculty must sign retirement agreements by April 30 of the calendar year in which they plan to enter the phased retirement program.
- Retirement agreements: Participants must sign an irrevocable retirement agreement with a release of employment-related claims. The Provost or his designate signs the agreement for the University. Faculty members may retire fully after year one or two of the program and must retire no later than the end of year three.
- Phase-out plan: The retirement plan will allow faculty to shift to 50 percent effort for the academic year, starting in year one. The Dean and Department Chair determine the duties involved at 50 percent effort based on the current teaching load, research, administrative activities, and other service activities. The salary level for each year of the plan is shown below:
- Year 1: 50% effort and 80% academic year salary
- Year 2: 50% effort and 70% academic year salary
- Year 3: 50% effort and 50% academic year salary
- Pay raises: Those participating in the retirement program are eligible for pay raises, based on their academic year salary, for each of the three years in the plan.
- Benefits eligibility: Participants in the retirement program will maintain benefits eligibility until they retire. Active, paid faculty members do not have access to Rice Retirement 401(a) funds during the phase-out period, per the retirement plan document. However, active faculty over age 59 ½ may access their voluntary 403(b) savings at any time without penalty and may use these funds to supplement their salary during the phase-out period.
- Sabbatical leave of absence: Faculty with at least 6 semesters accrued toward sabbatical as of June 30 of the calendar year in which they commence phased retirement will be eligible to apply for no more than one semester of sabbatical during the phased retirement period at the salary rate in the sabbatical policy. No sabbatical credit will be earned during the phased retirement period. However, should you opt to retire on June 30 of the current calendar year, you would not be eligible for a sabbatical since faculty must return to Rice for at least one year following a sabbatical. The terms of the sabbatical should be confirmed in writing at the time the faculty member signs the retirement agreement.
- University policies and procedures: University policies and procedures apply to faculty participating in the faculty retirement plan.
- Title at retirement: Faculty will be eligible to receive emeritus status at the retirement appointment level consistent with University Policy 201. Faculty will remain eligible for promotion while they are in the phased retirement program.
- Space assignment during phased retirement: Continued use of office, laboratory, and/or studio space during the phased retirement period will be negotiated with the faculty member's Department Chair consistent with University guidelines for space allocation and considering the needs of the department, school, and university. Such arrangements will be subject to the approval of the Dean and Provost and should be confirmed in writing at the time of the retirement agreement.
- Post-retirement employment: All Rice retirees may be eligible to return to Rice employment after retirement, subject to the University’s policies on retiree hiring, that there is a need for their services. If rehired, retirees may become benefits-eligible, as defined in University Policy 403.
*“Continuous service” means a continuous time of benefits-eligible service as a faculty member at Rice, including any university-approved leaves such as sabbaticals or junior faculty leave.
Tenured and tenure-track faculty may also use a $750 reimbursement for financial planning services. See below for more details.
Here is a list of independent, fee-based financial planners in the Houston area who are familiar with Rice's retirement plans and benefits:
|Charles L. Parker, Jr.||Stephanie M. Scherr||Michael R. Tibbets|
Parker Financial Advisors
14825 St. Mary’s Lane, Suite 250
Certified Financial Planner
8 Greenway Plaza, Suite 822
De Lange, Hudspeth, McConnell & Tibbets, L.L.P
1177 West Loop South, Suite 1700
You may choose one of the consultants above or select any other professional financial advisor. We recommend pursuing a fee-based advisor who can assess your situation and provide advice without the sometimes adverse incentive of commissions. By making this list available, the university does not endorse the services of any consultant chosen. Rice reimburses you the same regardless of which financial advisor you select.
To receive reimbursement, please send a copy of your bill for services to Verónica Villaseñor (email@example.com) and you will be reimbursed for up to $750 in services.
The Federal Government also created a website, www.mymoney.gov, to assist Americans with financial education.