IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to the serious, negative financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has temporarily stopped contributing to the 403(b) Retirement Savings Plan effective July 1, 2020.  The suspension is expected to continue through June 30, 2021.  The amount you are contributing will remain unchanged, unless you take action to change it.  Your service will continue to accumulate towards your initial University Contribution eligibility or towards your 10 year percentage increase during the time the University Contribution is suspended.

Washington University provides its faculty and staff with a defined contribution (403b) Retirement Savings Plan (the Plan) which combines employee contributions, university contributions (for eligible faculty and staff members after two years of credited service) and investment earnings to assist in building financial security at retirement. 

Investment Company: TIAA
Customer Service Hotline: 888-488-3419

Watch for email updates from My Retirement Plan to learn about upcoming events and important messages.

Learn about basic financial concepts you need to make wise decisions and reach your goals at every career stage. Visit Financial Wellness Workshops and Tools to learn more.

Visit the Live Webinar Lounge to register for ongoing virtual events through TIAA. 

Retirement Savings Plan Features

  • You can make contributions on a pre-tax or after-tax (Roth) basis, regardless of your salary. Visit TIAA to start, stop, or change your contributions.
  • Wide range of low-cost investment options
  • University contribution for eligible employees
  • TIAA  Investments
  • TIAA Financial Tools & Resources

Eligibility to Participate

Faculty and staff*, regardless of the number of hours worked, may enroll at any time throughout the year. The WashU Retirement Savings Plan offers a wide range of low cost investment options. By clicking on the TIAA link, you will be directed to the WashU microsite, which offers valuable information to help you enroll, including investment selections, how much you should contribute, and whether to make a pre-tax or Roth contribution.

All changes to your contributions should be made at

*Excludes student workers and nonresident aliens.

Employee Contributions

All faculty and staff may contribute a percentage of your base salary to the plan, up to the current IRS annual maximum.

The IRS maximum allowable contribution limit for 2020 is $19,500 for employees under age 50, and $26,000 for employees age 50 and above. The payroll system is set up to stop taking deductions when the limit has been reached.

Participating in the WashU Plan  (Plan #102320)

New Employees

Hired in a benefits-eligible position

  • You will be automatically enrolled into the Retirement Savings Plan at a contribution level of 3% per pay period. 
  • You will be notified by TIAA approximately one week following completion of your WashU new hire benefits enrollment. The notification will provide account log-in instructions. If you do not receive this notification within 45 days of your date of hire, contact TIAA to inquire about the delay. If you were not assigned a WashU email address, the notification will arrive via US mail; please make sure your department has the correct address on file for you in HRMS.
  • You will be enrolled in the automatic increase feature, which increases your contribution by 1% annually; capped at 10%. You may change or opt out of this feature at any time.
  • Be sure to log into your account, designate beneficiaries and review your investment selection. The default investment will be the Target Date Fund that is most appropriate for your age.
  • Enter any contributions you have made in the current calendar year before coming to work at WashU. This will allow WashU to help you make sure you do not contribute more than the IRS maximum during the calendar year. 
  • You may rollover your account from your prior employer to the WashU plan. Contact TIAA directly for a direct rollover form.
  • If you currently have a TIAA account from another institution, you may continue to log-in with current account access; the WashU account will be visible once it is created.
  • You have 30 days to make changes to or opt out of the automatic enrollment feature. Refunds cannot be made on employee contributions. You may restart or change your contributions at any time at

Rehired in a benefits-eligible position

  • You will be automatically enrolled into the Retirement Savings Plan at a contribution level of 3% per pay period once you resume active employment. 
  • You may be eligible to receive the University contribution if the two-year wait service requirement was fulfilled during your previous period(s) of employment at WashU. Please contact a representative listed at the bottom of this page to discuss eligibility for the university contribution.
  • If you did not close your previous TIAA account, contributions will be invested in the same account and invested in the manner currently established. If you wish to change the investment allocation and change your beneficiary, you are encouraged to log into your account to make the desired updates.

WashU Appointees in a Non-Benefits-Eligible Role

  • You may enroll into the Retirement Savings Plan to make contributions to the plan at
  • You will not be automatically enrolled

Eligibility for the University Contribution

You must contribute the minimum required percentage in order to receive the university contribution (see below).

  • You may increase your contribution by logging into your account at or calling 888-488-3419.
  • You should log into the account periodically, even if you are making the minimum required contribution, to verify beneficiaries and view resources available from TIAA. 

    You are eligible for the University contribution following two years of eligible service, as long as you are a faculty/staff member who meets the definition of a benefits eligible employee and make the minimum required contribution.

    A benefits eligible employee is a faculty member with an appointment of 50% or more of the required full-time faculty workload, a regular semester-based teaching faculty member on the Danforth campus with a semester appointment of at least 6.5 credit hours, or a regular staff employee whose standard work schedule is 20 or more hours per week.

    The University contribution may begin on the first of the month following two years of eligible service. Payroll deadlines may dictate that contributions are effective with the next feasible payroll period. Employees are required to make a minimum contribution (see chart below) to receive the University’s contribution.

    Annual Salary Minimum Required Contribution
    Less than $30,000 $5.00 per month
    $30,000 – $44,999 3%
    $45,000 + 5%

    University Contribution Details

    The University’s contribution is a percentage of the employee’s base salary up to the current IRS limit amount. See details below.

    For benefits-eligible employees hired or rehired on or after September 1, 2006:

    Continuous Years of Service University Contribution
    2 7%
    10 10%

    For benefits-eligible employees actively employed on August 31, 2006:

    As of Jan. 1 University Contribution
    Under 45 7%
    45-49 8.5%
    50 and over 11.5%

    Retirement Savings Plan Vendor

    TIAA is recognized in the financial industry for their low investment costs and service-oriented philosophy. Plan features such as loans, Roth contributions and other services are offered through TIAA.

    You can meet individually with a consultant to discuss the investments you select, how to rollover previous employer accounts to your WashU Plan, and various retirement savings questions you may have.

    Investment Counseling

    TIAA representatives are available for one-on-one sessions held on various WashU campuses each month. Counselors can assist with many retirement savings questions during a counseling session.

    To schedule an investment counseling appointment by phone or in person, please visit the TIAA consultation page or contact TIAA at 1-800-732-8353.

    Virtual Sessions: You can meet with a TIAA financial consultant on your laptop, smartphone, tablet or desktop computer in addition to on-site meetings. Once you schedule, you’ll receive a link for your session. From there, you can log in from the device of your choice: 

    • A smartphone or tablet equipped with a video camera, microphone and speaker. You’ll need Adobe Connect®, a free app you can download from the Apple® or Google Play stores.
    • A computerwith access to the internet, a microphone and speakers. You’ll be able to easily download Adobe Connect® when logging in.

    Change of Name/Address

    Changing your name requires two steps, 1) contact TIAA to request the appropriate form, 2) contact your payroll representative to update your record with the university.

    Changing your home address in HRMS will update all other vendor records.

    Accessing the Funds in Your Retirement Account

    Signatures are not required by a WashU Plan Representative for unmarried participants (provided your marital status is current within HRMS). The signature line still appears on the form, but it is no longer required for the WashU Plan.


    Participants of the WashU Retirement Savings Plan are able to take in-service distributions while actively employed at age 59 ½ or older, without a penalty (for most investment options). Distributions can be requested via online account access or by contacting TIAA directly.  A plan representative signature is not required if your marital status is up to date.

    Leaving the University

    Information regarding all WashU benefits upon separation of service.


    You may be eligible to take a loan against your retirement savings account, should the need arise.  A maximum of two outstanding loans are allowed through the WashU Plan.  Employee contributions, investment selection and previous loan activity are considered when determining the loan availability amount.  Loans are initiated by contacting TIAA.

    Hardship Distributions

    The WashU Retirement Savings Plan allows participants to take a distribution from the Plan in the event of hardship before attainment of age 59 ½ or severance from employment.  A hardship distribution can only be made if the distribution is due to an immediate and heavy financial need and the distribution is not in excess of the amount necessary to satisfy that financial need.   Hardship distributions are available from participant and rollover contributions, and may be subject to restrictions based on the investments selected.

    Next Steps:   If you find you are in need of a hardship distribution, contact TIAA directly.


    Certified copy of the QDRO should be mailed to:


    QDRO Unit

    8500 Andrew Carnegie Blvd.

    Charlotte, NC 28262

    Participant Services: 888-488-3419

    Rollovers, Asset Transfers and Distributions

    Contact TIAA at 888-488-3419.

    If you are rolling funds INTO the WashU plan, or out of the WashU Plan, contact TIAA for guidance.


    IRS Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) rules. Under these rules, employees are required to begin taking a distribution from their 403(b) accounts and/or 457(b) accounts once they turn 72 and are no longer actively working. Employees who are required to take a required minimum distribution, or RMD, and fail to do so may owe up to 50% of the amount you should have withdrawn as a tax penalty. 

    Documents and Forms