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Retirement Savings Plans

Our retirement benefits are among the most generous in the region

Get started or make changes

Use myUK to get started online—and make any changes when needed. Whether you’re enrolling in a plan, choosing a carrier, or setting up your contributions, it’s possible in myUK. Use myUK >

Or, if you prefer, you could print and return a paper form. Access PDF forms >

To set or update your beneficiaries, changes must be made through your retirement carrier, Fidelity or TIAA.

Your choice

Invest your matching and supplemental savings with Fidelity, TIAA, or allocate contributions to both carriers. Each carrier offers several fund options. Choose to save based on risk tolerance and time horizon or select specific funds or mutual funds from a range of choices reflecting various styles and goals.

  • Fidelity

  • Matching 403(b) pre-tax
  • Voluntary
    • 403(b) pre-tax
    • 403(b) post-tax
    • 457(b) pre-tax
    • 457(b) post-tax
  • TIAA

  • Matching 403(b) pre-tax
  • Voluntary
    • 403(b) pre-tax
    • 403(b) post-tax
    • 457(b) pre-tax
    • 457(b) post-tax

Matching Retirement Savings

Contribute 5% of your base salary pre-taxes, and as of July 1, 2020, we’ll contribute an equal amount. Pending a financial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to return to a 200% match on July 1, 2021.

Matching 403(b) pre-tax

The advantages of your pre-tax contributions

Your five percent contribution is set aside from your paycheck before taxes are withheld. Because your contributions are pre-tax (tax-deferred), you’ll see two immediate advantages:

1. Lower taxable income on your W-2

You’ll enjoy a tax break today while you save for tomorrow. You pay no federal, state, and in some cases, city tax on these amounts, until you begin receiving income.

2. Quicker growth

You're not taxed on contributions or investment earnings while those dollars remain in your plan account. That account is not taxed until it is paid out. Because all contributions and investment earnings grow tax-sheltered, your savings grow and compound more quickly than in a bank savings account.

While there are withdrawal restrictions, you always maintain ownership of your five percent contributions and their investment earnings plus interest on those savings.

Keep your employer match after three years

When you start your matching retirement savings, we immediately match your contributions by 100%, but you don't own those savings immediately.

You will own, or vest, the university's contributions plus the investment earnings and interest on those savings after three years of regular full-time employment.

After your three-year vesting period, all of your retirement savings account balance is yours to take with you.

It's to your advantage to start as soon as you're eligible!

  • Eligibility

    Regular full-time employees are eligible. Participation is required unless you’re:

    • Under age 30
    • A federal civil service or federal employee.

    If you reach age 30 without enrolling, you’ll be automatically enrolled through a default enrollment on day 31 and your contributions will be made to TIAA's Lifecycle Index Fund.

  • If you're not eligible for retirement matching, we have more ways to save.

More Ways to Save

It’s up to you how and when to invest more!

Voluntary 403(b)
Voluntary 457(b)

Choose whether to save on your taxes now or later and the dollar amount you’ll contribute. Because we offer 403(b) and 457(b), along with the option to do both, you can set aside as much as $39,000 this year. If you're closer to retirement age, our catch-up opportunities allow you to save up to $52,000.

Fidelity and TIAA offer specific details on each plan. Here’s an overview:

  • Voluntary 403(b) plan

    Tax options:

    • Pre-tax (tax-deferred)
    • Post-tax (Roth)


    Which option is right for you? Use Fidelity's Roth educational calculator and review our Roth 403(b) FAQ to learn more about this post-tax option which requires a salary reduction agreement with the university.

    Limit: $19,500 limit for both pre-tax and post-tax contributions

    Catch-up opportunity: Employees turning 50 or older in 2020 are eligible to tax defer an additional $6,500

  • Voluntary 457(b) plan

    Tax options:

    • Pre-tax (tax-deferred)
    • Post-tax (Roth)


    Limit: $19,500 limit (in addition to the 403(b) limit)

    Catch-up opportunities:

    Employees turning 50 or older in 2020 are eligible to tax defer an additional $6,500

    During the three years prior to their year of retirement, or year of eligibility of retirement, employees may be eligible to double the current year limit allowing them to tax defer up to $39,000 in 2020.

    Employees may only use one 457(b) catch-up provision in a calendar year.

    Option to withdraw funds: Employees may withdraw funds from their 457(b) account when they separate from service, at any age, with no early withdrawal tax penalty.

  • Eligibility

    Most employees are eligible:

    • Regular employees with a full-time, half-time or part-time status (0.2 full-time equivalency or greater)
    • Temporary employees with a full-time, half-time or part-time assignment (0.2 full-time equivalency or greater)

Frequently Asked Questions

UK retirees and former employees may exclude certain distributions from their retirement accounts from Kentucky state income tax if the retirement funds remain in the UK retirement accounts held with UK retirement carriers (Fidelity, TIAA). Retirement funds must stay in and be distributed directly from the retirement accounts including 403(b), 401(a), 457(b), Supplemental 403(b) and 415(m) to receive the potential tax exclusion provided on Kentucky Pension Income Exclusion “Schedule P”, which is for public pensions. Funds transferred to an IRA account and then subsequently distributed are not eligible for the exclusions provided under Schedule P. Schedule P provides tax filers with public pensions the ability to exclude a percentage of the current year retirement income based on years of service before and after January 1, 1998 (see the instructions on Schedule P for more detail). In addition to this exclusion, all retirees who keep retirement funds within the aforementioned retirement accounts are eligible to receive the overall exclusion ($41,110 for 2014) which may be indexed for inflation each year.

Yes, though keep in mind, the total amount you may tax defer is limited by the Internal Revenue Code.

If you'd like to contribute on a post-tax (tax-deferred) basis, you could make this edit in one of two ways:

  1. Edit your plan in myUK entering into a salary reduction agreement
  2. Complete and return this salary reduction agreement form.

As a non-ERISA plan, we do not provide a plan summary document—a document required of ERISA plans—but we do make this PDF summary available.

No, service time is pro-rated to determine eligibility for retirement health benefits, but not for vesting. For example, a regular full-time faculty members on a 9-month contract would vest at the end of their third academic year.

We provide step-by-step screenshots showing how to enroll or make edits online using myUK for matching retirement savings and voluntary retirement savings.

For your reference, this guide explains the plan types which are abbreviated in myUK. 


What you see in myUK  What it means 
Fidelity 403b Fidelity 403(b) pre-tax
TIAA 403b TIAA 403(b) pre-tax


What you see in myUK 

What it means 

Fidelity 457 

Fidelity 457 pre-tax 

Fidelity 457 PT 

Fidelity 457 post-tax 

Fidelity VOL403 

Fidelity 403 pre- or post-tax 

TIAA 457 

TIAA 457 pre-tax 

TIAA 457 PT 

TIAA 457 post-tax 


TIAA 403 (newer GSRA contract) pre- or post-tax 


TIAA 403 (older RA contract) pre- or post-tax 

Separate from service after you're vested (after three years) and you keep everything.

If you separate from employment at UK prior to being vested (after three years), the contributions you have made to your retirement funds will not be affected by vesting requirements—but you will forfeit all funds from UK’s employer match contributions. All contributions from UK will be accounted for separately from the employee’s contributions, including gains and losses. One year after you separate, the forfeited funds from UK’s contributions will be returned to UK and used to offset future employee benefits costs.

If you separate from service at age 65 or older you will automatically be vested regardless of the number of years of vested service.

UK's vesting period is three years for all eligible employees.

Vesting means that your right to retirement income benefits provided as a match by the university cannot be revoked, even if you leave the university, after three years of regular full-time service.

Check with your carrier, Fidelity or TIAA, for details specific to your account but here’s an overview.


  • Loans can be obtained for active employees and retirees who are enrolled in a UK 403(b) or 457(b) retirement plan.
  • Employees may borrow up to 50% of the balance in their 403(b) or 457(b) account with Fidelity or up to 45% with TIAA ($50,000 maximum)
  • The minimum amount for a loan is $1,000.
  • The maximum loan period is five years. The IRS allows up to 10 years for a loan solely to purchase your primary residence. Documentation is required.
  • There is a maximum of three outstanding loans at any time. Each retirement carrier may have additional rules related to the type of investments involved or company policies.
  • Fees for loan administration charged by the retirement carrier, if applicable, may vary and are the responsibility of the employee.
  • Employees who default on their loan will be subject to taxation by the IRS for the entire amount of the loan and penalties, if they are under age 59½. In addition, a loan default will prohibit any future loans from your retirement plan.

Hardship Withdrawals

  • Hardship withdrawals are available through TIAA after all other sources of income are exhausted, including retirement loans.
  • Funds available for hardship withdrawal are limited to amounts originally invested in annuity contracts and annuity invested funds equal to 1) employee 5% contributions and 2) voluntary contributions from TIAA.
  • Contributions to mutual funds/custodial accounts at either vendor, transfers to annuity investments, and earnings from investments are not eligible for hardship withdrawals.
  • Distribution amounts cannot exceed the need documented. Payments can be "grossed-up" to accommodate the 20% federal tax withholding. No maximum hardship amount.
  • The IRS will impose a 10% penalty for early withdrawal if the employee is under age 59½.
  • Documentation of need is required for a hardship withdrawal and must be submitted to TIAA along with other necessary Hardship paperwork before the withdrawal is approved.
  • Hardship withdrawals are available under the IRS guidelines for:
    • Medical expenses for the employee, employee's spouse or dependents that exceed 7.5% of the Adjusted Gross Income;
    • Purchase of the employee's principal residence
    • Post secondary education for the next semester or quarter for the employee, spouse, or dependent.
    • Payments needed to prevent eviction or foreclosure.
    • Funeral expenses for a spouse or dependent.
If hired prior to July 1, 2015 and enrolled in the plan, you may invest in tiers 1 and 2 as well as all Fidelity and TIAA funds offered on their platforms. Investments in tiers 1 and 2 are monitored and reviewed on a quarterly basis by UK's retirement plan committee, whereas tier 3 funds are not.