Higher Education Retirement
Plan 3

30-Day Retirement System Choice

As a new higher education institution employee who is eligible to participate in a higher education retirement plan (HERP), you have 30 days to choose your retirement system. You can choose membership in either the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) Plan 3, or your institution’s HERP. If you choose DRS membership, you will participate in Plan 3 of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) (if you are in a  faculty position) or Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) (if you are in a non-faculty position).

You have 30 days from your hire date to choose a plan. If you do not choose within 30 days, your plan will be the HERP offered by your employer. Your plan selection or plan default (if you don’t choose a plan within 30 days) is permanent. Carefully consider your options as this is a very important decision. You may wish to consult with your financial advisor before making a choice.

To participate in Plan 3, complete the Higher Education Employees Plan 3 Investment Program form and return it to your employer. DRS does not administer higher education plans (usually provided by a third party like TIAA or Fidelity). Contact your benefits office for more information about your plan options.

Plan 3 summary

Plan 3 is a 401(a) pension benefit plan with an investment account component. When you retire, you will receive a monthly benefit for the rest of your life that is based on your years of public service and your average final compensation. You also have an investment component. You choose how your contributions will be invested from a range of options provided by the Washington State Investment Board. The amount of your investment account depends on the contribution rate you choose and the performance of your investments.

More information about Plan 3:

Plan 3 overview chart

Plan 3 basics

PERS Plan 3 information

TRS Plan 3 information

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