Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Alternative (RPA)

Plan History and Purpose

The RPA was instituted as a voluntary plan in 1970. It became the mandatory plan for faculty and professional staff in 1977. All faculty and professional staff working at least half-time equivalent must participate in the plan as a condition of employment. Faculty and staff who have previously participated in PERS are not eligible for the RPA.

The plan is called the Retirement Plan Alternative because it serves as an alternative to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Nevada Revised Statute 286.802 authorizes the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada to operate a retirement plan for its employees separate and apart from PERS.

The RPA also serves as the alternative to Social Security. The State of Nevada is one of seven states whose employees do not participate in Social Security. The RPA is designed to both replace the benefit you would otherwise have received from Social Security and provide the opportunity to accumulate an even greater benefit than Social Security would have provided.

If you have earned a benefit from Social Security before your employment with NSHE or if you earn one after your departure from NSHE, the Social Security benefit you ultimately receive may be affected by your employment with a non-participating employer such as NSHE. To learn more about Social Security’s so-called “Windfall Elimination Provision” visit the Social Security Administration website. You can also access an online calculator tool to help you understand how the Windfall Elimination Provision might affect you.

How You Participate

The RPA is the principal retirement vehicle for faculty and professional staff and participation in the plan is mandatory. You contribute a percentage of your salary to the plan each month. The percentage of salary that you must contribute is set by the Nevada State legislature pursuant to Nevada Revised Statute 286.808. The current contribution rate is 17.50%. Your contribution is matched by NSHE. Your contributions are made by salary reduction,  that is before tax. You are always 100% vested in your contributions and NSHE’s, which means that it cannot be taken away for any reason.

You choose how to invest your own and NSHE’s contributions. The amount of money that you accumulate will greatly depend on the performance of the investments you choose.  TIAA provides dedicated financial consultants that are available Monday through Friday on any of NSHE’s eight campuses to assist you in your investment deliberations.  Until further notice, TIAA is conducting its counseling sessions virtually, to schedule a session, simply visit the TIAA Counseling link.

When You are Eligible to Receive Your Retirement Benefits

You are eligible to receive the benefits you accumulate in this plan when you:

  • Terminate your employment with NSHE,

  • Turn age 62 even if still employed,

  • Die

How Your Benefits Are Paid to You

Your retirement benefits in this plan may be distributed to you in any of the ways described below at your discretion:

  • a single life annuity

  • a joint and survivor annuity

  • a single lump sum (if permitted by your funding vehicle and subject to limitations discussed below)

  • a fixed period annuity (subject to the rules of your funding vehicle)

  • such other method as allowed by your funding vehicle

Lump sum distributions are available only under the following conditions:

  • you must have been employed for fewer than 5 years prior to termination to receive both your own and NSHE’s contributions and earnings,

  • you can always take a lump sum distribution of your own contributions and earnings upon termination,

  • you can take a lump sum distribution of NSHE’s contributions and earnings if you are over the age of 55 regardless of your age at termination.

If you terminate employment with NSHE after completing 5 years of service and before attaining age 55, the ’employer’ portion of your account is only available for distrbiution in the form of an annuity until you reach age 55.

Borrowing from the Plan

Personal loans and home purchase loans are available from your pre-tax  contributions and earnings. The minimum amount you may borrow is $1,000. The maximum amount you may borrow is the lesser of:

  1. $50,000 reduced by any previous loans you have outstanding and the amount by which your highest outstanding loan balance from all retirement plans during the prior 12 months exceeds your outstanding loan balance from all retirement plans on the date your loan application is approved, and

  2. 50% of your vested interest in all your retirement plan accounts.

You may have no more than 1 home purchase and 2 personal loans at any time.

Please note that effective October 1, 2017 new loans are only available from TIAA.  Please contact TIAA to initiate the loan process.

Please note that effective October 1, 2017 new loans are only available from TIAA.  Please contact TIAA to initiate the loan process.