Permanent part-time and full-time employees, as well as Pre/Post-Doctoral Associates, are eligible to participate in the Iowa State University retirement plans. Participation in one of the mandatory savings plan options is required. Additional retirement contributions can be made into a voluntary savings plan.

Mandatory Retirement Savings Plan

Upon hire, eligible employees will elect to participate in either a defined benefit plan through the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS) or a 403b defined contribution plan through the Teacher’s Insurance Annuity Association (TIAA).

Your mandatory retirement plan choice between IPERS and TIAA is IRREVOCABLE. The initial election of IPERS or TIAA may only be changed following a qualifying break in service (4 months or longer) from ISU.

If no election is made, employees will default into the mandatory plan through IPERS.

Non-benefits eligible employees who earn $1,000 in two consecutive quarters of employment are automatically enrolled in IPERS. If you have questions regarding your eligibility, or why you are required to participate, please contact the Iowa State University Fringe Benefit Accounting and Compliance Office:

Phone: 515-294-2861

Reviewing Your Mandatory Options

The following resources will help you with your decision:


IPERS is a defined benefit plan. The retirement income is determined by a formula based on years of service and the salary earned. Defined benefit plans are sometimes called traditional pension plans.


TIAA is a defined contribution plan. The retirement income will be determined by the amount of monthly contributions and your investment performance. This type of defined contribution plan is also known as a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity.

Want to Save Additional Funds?

VOLUNTARY RETIREMENT SAVINGS PLANS are available to all eligible employees regardless of their mandatory retirement plan election. Employees can elect contributions on a tax-deferred basis, after-tax (Roth) basis, or a combination of tax-deferred and after-tax. The University does not match these contributions.

Investment and Fee Information

Iowa State University sponsors a participant-directed Defined Contribution Retirement Plan that meets the requirements of Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 2986, as amended through July 1, 2000, for the benefit of its employees. Plan contributions are invested in one or more of the funding vehicles available to you. The plan is sponsored to assist you with the long-term accumulation of retirement savings through a combination of your and Iowa State University contributions.

In 2014, TIAA acquired Nuveen, a global investment firm. In an effort to simplify, the decision was made to rebrand all TIAA-CREF mutual funds to Nuveen. For example, the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle 2010 Fund became the Nuveen Lifecycle 2010 Fund. The changes happened automatically and should be reflected on your quarterly statement, your confirmation statements, and in your account online. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact TIAA at 800-842-2252.