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Retirement Benefits Saving for your retirement couldn't be easier.

Eagle statue in the fall.

The most popular benefit at AU is the 403(b) Retirement Plan which allows you to make contributions immediately to your retirement savings and, after a year of service, receive a 2-to-1 match, all of which can help you attain your financial goals for retirement.

COVID-19 Update: Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the university temporarily suspended employer matching contributions and automatic enrollment to the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan effective August 1, 2020, for at least six months.

Contribute Now

You don't have to wait to begin saving for your future. You can contribute to the Plan immediately, regardless of age or service. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will be contacted when you become eligible for the match so that you can maximize your benefit.

Faculty

Full-time or adjunct faculty member under contract and receiving remuneration.

Staff

Employed by AU on a full-time or part-time basis.

COVID-19 Update: Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the university temporarily suspended employer matching contributions and automatic enrollment to the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan effective August 1, 2020, for at least six months.

Enrollment

You are eligible to enroll in the Plan immediately. Visit www.netbenefits.com/au and click "Enroll" to get started.

Automatic enrollment

If you have completed one year of service*, you will be automatically enrolled in the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan, unless you have previously enrolled on your own or opt out of the one-year anniversary automatic enrollment.

If you are automatically enrolled, the Plan will deduct 1% of your pay and match that 1% with an additional 2%. These contributions will be defaulted to an account with Fidelity Investments and invested in a Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement Fund-Institutional Shares with the target retirement date closest to the year you might retire, based on your current age and assuming a retirement age of 65. You can change your investment option at any time.

*You have worked at AU for 12 consecutive months, worked at least 1,000 hours during that 12-month period, and are normally scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week.

Contributions

You can contribute from 1% to 100% of your eligible pay, up to the annual IRS dollar limits. If you are under age 50, federal tax law limits your contributions for pretax deferrals and Roth contributions to $19,500 for 2020. If you will be at least age 50 during the year, the Plan allows you to contribute an additional $6,500 in “catch-up” contributions.

Catch-Up Contributions

If you have reached age 50 or will reach 50 during the calendar year (January 1 – December 31) and are making the maximum Plan or IRS contribution, you may make an additional “catch-up” contribution each pay period. You make catch-up contributions through payroll deductions, the same way you make regular contributions.

Pretax Contributions

Pretax contributions allow you to postpone paying taxes on the amount you contribute and the earnings that are generated as long as they remain in the Plan. When you take a distribution from the Plan or withdraw the funds at retirement, you will pay taxes on them.

Roth Contributions

A Roth contribution is available to employees who participate in the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan and allows participants to make after-tax contributions and take any associated earnings completely tax-free at retirement - as long as the distribution is a qualified one. A qualified distribution, in this case, is one that is taken at least five tax years after your first Roth contribution and after you have attained age 59½, or become disabled or die.

COVID-19 Update: Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the university temporarily suspended employer matching contributions and automatic enrollment to the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan effective August 1, 2020, for at least six months.

  • You are eligible to receive the 2-to-1 matching contributions if you have worked at AU for 12 months, and are normally scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week for at least 1,000 hours per year; or
  • If you have a year of service at another 501(c)(3), non-profit, or university, you may be eligible for a waiver of the one-year waiting period.

The first five percent (5%) of your contributions are matched 2-to-1 by the university once you become eligible for the match, for a total contribution of up to 15 percent.

Examples of employee contribution and university match.
If you contribute AU contributes For a total of

1% of Regular Salary

2% of Regular Salary

3% of Regular Salary

2% of Regular Salary

4% of Regular Salary

6% of Regular Salary

3% of Regular Salary

6% of Regular Salary

9% of Regular Salary

4% of Regular Salary

8% of Regular Salary

12% of Regular Salary

5% of Regular Salary

10% of Regular Salary

15% of Regular Salary

If you were hired after May 1, 2008, you are enrolled automatically to receive the university's 2-to-1 match when you become eligible to receive the match.

If you have a year of service at another 501(c)(3) nonprofit or university, you may be eligible for a waiver of the one-year waiting period (student employment excluded). Download Retirement Plan Eligibility Verification form and send it to your previous employer. Return the completed form to the American University Office of Human Resources.

Pretax and Roth deferrals are eligible for a university match under the Plan.

COVID-19 Update: The University will temporarily suspend employer matching contributions for at least six months to the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan effective August 1, 2020.

COVID-19 Update: Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the university temporarily suspended employer matching contributions and automatic enrollment to the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan effective August 1, 2020, for at least six months. During this time, you may still submit Retirement Eligibility Verification forms. Once the temporary suspension ends, you will be eligible to receive university matching contributions upon enrollment in the retirement plan.

If you have a year of service at another 501(c)(3) non-profit or university, you may be eligible for a waiver of the one-year waiting period (student employment excluded). You will need to download and send the AU Retirement Plan Eligibility Verification Form to your previous employer and return the completed form to the American University Office of Human Resources.

Investment Service Providers

The Plan offers diversified investment options through two investment service providers, Fidelity and TIAA.

Contact TIAA

Phone
800-842-2252
Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., or Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Online
www.tiaa.org/american
Access your account information and use online tools and calculators to help manage your investments.
One-on-one consultations
To schedule an individual consultation with a TIAA representative at American University, call  800-732-8353 or visit www.tiaa.org/schedulenow. These sessions are offered at no cost to you.
 
COVID-19 Update: Scheduled one-on-one consultations will be held by phone or online.

Contact Fidelity

Phone
800-343-0860
Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), from 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern time.
Online
www.netbenefits.com/au
Access your account information and use online tools and calculators to help manage your investments.
One-on-one consultations
To schedule an individual consultation with a Fidelity representative at American University, call 800-642-7131 or visit getguidance.fidelity.com/au. These sessions are offered at no cost to you.
 
COVID-19 Update: Scheduled one-on-one consultations will be held by phone or online.

The American University 403(b)retirement plan lineup offers a broad array of investment options that allow you to develop a diversified asset mix with Fidelity, TIAA, or both. 

The Plan is divided into four tiers to satisfy varying levels of desired involvement in allocating retirement dollars.

Tier 1: Target Date Retirement Funds
Tier 2: Passively Managed Funds
Tier 3: Actively Managed Funds
Tier 4: Brokerage Option

Default investment option

The default investment option for the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan is the Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement Funds Institutional Shares on the Fidelity lineup closest to the year you might retire and assuming a retirement age of 65. The default investment option is applied to eligible faculty and staff who are auto-enrolled or new Plan participants who have not selected an investment option from the Plan’s lineup. You may change your investment mix at any time by contacting your investment service provider of choice.

Visit the myBenefits - Retirement site for information regarding AU's retirement plan investment options.

When you are “vested” in your savings, it effectively means the money is yours to keep. You are always 100% vested in all contributions you and the university make to your account in the Plan, as well as any earnings on them.

Your beneficiary or beneficiaries will inherit your account in the event of your death. Identifying a beneficiary when you enroll in the Plan is critical and updating your beneficiary designation when you experience a life-changing event such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a death in the family will confirm that your account will be distributed per your wishes.

Beneficiary information is maintained by the investment service providers and can be updated by contacting them directly:

Update your beneficiaries with Fidelity

  1. For help managing your beneficiaries, contact Fidelity at 800-343-0860
  2. Visit www.netbenefits.com/au and login to your account
  3. Click on "Profile" link and select "Beneficiaries"
  4. Click "Edit" to update or add beneficiaries
  5. Click "Save All" to review and accept your beneficiaries

 

Update your beneficiaries with TIAA

  1. For help with managing your beneficiaries contact TIAA at 800-842-2252
  2. Visit www.tiaa.org/american and log in to your account and then select Beneficiaries to access the “Your Beneficiaries” landing page
  3. Click on the Actions tab, and then select Beneficiaries to access the “Your Beneficiaries” landing page, 
  4. Click “Add New or Edit Existing” Beneficiaries
  5. Review your changes and submit your election

You may also call your investment service provider directly to request a beneficiary form.

You are generally allowed to withdraw money from the Plan when you leave the university, retire, or become permanently disabled. Also, you may be eligible for a distribution if you have a financial hardship as defined by the Plan. Withdrawals may be subject to income taxes and, if they occur prior to you becoming age 59½, a 10% early withdrawal tax penalty.

Please contact your investment service provider directly for more information on taking a withdrawal from the Plan. 

CARES Act changes effective May 1, 2020

The following changes were made to the AU 403(b) Retirement Plan to help plan participants impacted by COVID-19.

Withdrawals – Taken through December 31, 2020

If you meet any of the below conditions established by the CARES Act, you are eligible to take distributions from your retirement plan if: 

  • You, your spouse or dependent has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You’ve experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed or laid off, or your work hours have been reduced.
  • You’re unable to work because of a lack of child care.
  • You’ve had to close or reduce the hours of a business as a result of COVID-19.
  • You’ve been financially impacted by other factors determined by the treasury secretary.

Withdrawals taken through December 31, 2020

  • You must certify that you are eligible for a withdrawal under the CARES Act
  • Mandatory tax withholding of 20% and tax penalty of 10% are waived for CARES Act distributions from retirement plan accounts up to $100,000*
  • Active and terminated participants can take a withdrawal if they qualify
  • Participants have the option to repay money withdrawn or pay taxes over the next three years—please consult a tax advisor

Call Fidelity or TIAA for more information:

  • Fidelity – 800-343-0860
  • TIAA – 800-842-2252

* Withdrawal requests exceeding $100,000 across Fidelity and TIAA (if participant has retirement accounts with both service providers) will be subject to mandatory tax withholding of 20% and early withdrawal penalty of 10% if under age 59½.

Although your Plan account is intended for the future, you may borrow from your account for any reason. Generally, Plan rules allow you to borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance (at Fidelity and TIAA combined).

The minimum loan amount is $1,000, and a loan must not exceed $50,000. Any outstanding loan balances from the previous 12 months may reduce the amount you have available to borrow. You then pay the money back into your account, plus interest, through ACH deductions from your bank account.

You may have two loans outstanding at a time. The cost to initiate a loan at Fidelity is $75, and there is a quarterly maintenance fee of $6.25. The initiation and maintenance fees are deducted directly from your Plan account. TIAA does not charge loan fees.

CARES Act changes effective May 1, 2020

The following changes were made to the AU 403(b) Retirement Plan to help plan participants impacted by COVID-19.

Loans – Option to defer loan repayment

If you have an outstanding retirement plan loan, you have the option to defer repayment of the loan though December 31, 2020.

Call Fidelity or TIAA for more information:

  • Fidelity – 800-343-0860
  • TIAA – 800-842-2252

CARES Act changes effective May 1, 2020

The following changes were made to the AU 403(b) Retirement Plan to help plan participants impacted by COVID-19.

Required minimum distributions – option to defer payment or repay

  • If you have not received a required minimum distribution (RMD) in 2020, you may defer the 2020 payment and receive it in 2021.
  • If you have received an RMD distribution in 2020, you have the option to repay it to your retirement plan in 2020 as a rollover contribution.

Call Fidelity or TIAA for more information:

  • Fidelity – 800-343-0860
  • TIAA – 800-842-2252

If you have retirement savings in another employer’s plan or in an IRA, you can generally  bring it to the university’s retirement plan. It may help make it easier to manage your savings and plan for your goals.

Contact Fidelity Investments or TIAA for details on rolling over your account balance in an IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan to the university’s retirement plan.

Be sure to consider all your available options and the applicable fees and features of each before moving your retirement assets.

Faculty and staff participating in the Retirement Plan are encouraged to schedule one-on-one appointments with our Fidelity and TIAA consultants. They are on-site at American University twice a month and are willing to discuss all aspects of retirement planning. These sessions are provided at no cost to you.

COVID-19 Update: Scheduled one-on-one consultations will be held by phone or online.

Enroll now

You can enroll, change your contributions or your investments at any time during the year.

myBenefits - Retirement

COVID-19 Retirement FAQs

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the University temporarily suspended employer matching contributions for at least six months to the American University 403(b) Retirement Plan effective August 1, 2020.

COVID-19 FAQ

Immediate, 100% Vesting

Vesting refers to the portion of your plan account balance to which you are entitled under the plan rules. You are immediately 100 percent vested in the plan.

Retire Well Education & Resources for All Stages of Retirement Planning

AU's Retire Well program can help articulate your vision of retirement, consider factors that may impact your satisfaction in retirement, and provide tools to design a strategy for a successful retirement.

Visit Retire Well