State and Alternative Retirement Options

Employees of Ohio public colleges and universities do not participate in the federal Social Security system, other than contributions to Medicare. Full-time classified and unclassified employees may elect to participate in either the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or an Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP). Full-time faculty members may elect to participate in either the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) or an ARP. Part-time classified and unclassified employees must participate in OPERS and part-time faculty must participate in STRS. 

If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit from other employment in addition to your OPERS/STRS/ARP benefits, there may be a reduction to your social security benefit due to the Windfall Elimination Provision. Learn more about the Windfall Elimination Provision (PDF) notice from the Social Security Administration.

In addition, all university employees are eligible to participate in the supplemental retirement options: 403(b) and 457(b) retirement savings programs. Enrollment in the supplemental plans can be completed at any time using Retirement@Work

Ohio Public Employee's Retirement System (OPERS)

Employees who participate in OPERS have the option to select the Traditional Plan or the Member-Directed Plan. Details regarding the features of these plans are available in the information packet provided to new employees by OPERS and on the OPERS Website.

OPERS requires contributions from employees of 10% and Kent State University may contribute up to 14.0%.

OPERS provides special retirement coverage for certain law enforcement officers (OPERS-LE). The OPERS-LE provision requires a 11.6% employee contribution and an employer contribution of 18.1%.

Retirement eligibility under the OPERS Traditional or Member-Directed Plan: Eligible at any age with 30 years of service or more, age 55 with at least 25 years of service, or age 60 with at least 5 years of service. Disability retirement benefits may be available after at least 5 years of service credit under the Traditional plan. There are no disability benefits available under the Member-Directed plan.

Retirement eligibility service years/age requirements for OPERS
Service Years Age
30 years Any
25 years Age 55
5 years Age 60

For more information, review the OPERS Retirement Plan Video or visit the OPERS Website.

State Teacher's Retirement System (STRS)

Employees who participate in STRS have the option to select the Defined Benefits Plan, the Defined Contribution Plan, or the Combined Plan. Details regarding the features of these plans are available in the information packet provided to new faculty members by STRS and on the STRS Website.

Retirement eligibility under STRS: STRS requires an employee contribution of 14% and an employer contribution of 14%. Retirement eligibility under the STRS Defined Benefit or Combined plans is any age with 30 years of service or more, age 55 with at least 25 years of service, or age 60 with at least 5 years of service. Disability retirement benefits may be available after at least 5 years of service credit under the Defined Benefit or Combined plans. There are no disability benefits available under the Defined Contribution plan.

Retirement eligibility service years/age requirements for STRS
Service Years Age
30 years Any
25 years Age 55
5 years Age 60

For more information, review the STRS Retirement Plan Videos or visit the STRS Website.

Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP)

The ARP is intended to give the employees more portability and control of retirement investments. However, all retirement benefits will be dependent on the available account balance that has accumulated from investments within the individual ARP account.

Full-time classified employees, unclassified employees and full-time faculty members are eligible to enroll in an Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) instead of the state retirement system that applies to their employment. This election must be made within the first 120 days of employment in a full-time position and the election is irrevocable. There is no ARP option available for part-time employees.

The Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP), a 401(a) account, is a defined contribution plan in which the employee and employer contribute a defined pre-tax percentage of pay. The employee makes the investment decisions, and those choices determine the amount of investment risk that the employee bears.  The account balance consists of contributions made by the employee and the employer, along with the account’s investment gains or losses.  This provides flexibility to the employee to make choices that are right for you.

Ohio Law requires a portion of the employer contribution for an ARP member go to the state retirement system to mitigate any negative financial impact of the ARP on the state retirement system.  This is known as the mitigating rate.  The mitigating rate is subject to fluctuation and may increase or decrease at any time based on current law.

  • The current mitigating rate for staff who selected the ARP in place of OPERS is 2.24%. 
  • The current mitigating rate for faculty who selected the ARP in place of STRS is 4.47%. 

To elect an Alternative Retirement Plan as a newly eligible employee, you must:

  • Complete the Retirement Plan Election Form and submit it to Human Resources Employee Benefits Office within your 120 calendar-day deadline.  Once you have newly elected the ARP, Human Resources will notify you when you can then access Retirement@Work to select your investment options.
  • Establish an account with one of the approved vendors (PDF). Contributions which would normally be made to the state retirement system are deposited into the employee's ARP account instead (less any allocation for unfunded liabilities in the state system, if applicable).
  • Use Retirement@Work to elect and manage your investment options for the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP), or to enroll, update your 403(b) or 457(b) plan deductions, manage investment options, or end your 403(b)or 457(b).  When making your vendor selection for any plan, fee structure (PDF) is an important consideration.

Remember, after you elect an ARP, the KSU Employee Benefits will notify you when you can access Retirement@Work to select your investment options.

For assistance with Retirement@Work, please review the Quick Start Guide or contact TIAA Customer Service at 1-844-567-9090 weekdays 8 am to 10 pm, and Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm (ET).

Retirement eligibility under an ARP: Individuals participating in the ARP will be treated similar to those retiring under OPERS or STRS. Sick leave payout eligibility will depend on your combination of age and service years worked. Regardless of age, you will need to make arrangements with your ARP provider to start withdrawing your funds. You are responsible for purchasing your own medical plan and contacting Social Security regarding applying for Medicare.

Retirement eligibility service years/age requirements for ARPs
Service Years Age
30 years Any
25 years Age 55
5 years Age 60

 

Contact the Benefits Department at 330-672-3107 or benefits@kent.edu for more information.

IRS COMPENSATION AND CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) establishes two specific limits for elective retirement contributions, the compensation limit, and the contribution limit.  For the current IRS compensation and contribution limits, please visit the IRS website.