Skip To Nav

Site-specific menu

Employee Handbook Section 14 - Retirement Programs

The University contributes to your retirement savings and gives you the opportunity to increase your retirement savings through the plans described below. Retirement program information and enrollment forms are provided at orientation.

Social Security

The University pays a set percentage (in relation to your income) to the federal Social Security system on your behalf. The University also makes a mandatory deduction from your pay for your share of Social Security contributions. The amount of the University (employer's) share and your (employee's) share of the total contribution is established by the Social Security Act. The amount paid to you upon retirement from Social Security is also determined by the Social Security Act.

University retirement plan

The University Board of Trustees designates employee retirement plans. Plans and plan provisions may be changed; the following is a brief summary of current plans. For more information, contact Human Resources.


Regular benefits-eligible full-time employees participate in the University-sponsored retirement plan.

Note: "Benefits-eligible full-time" employees are those in positions with a full-time equivalency of at least .69. See employment status.

Current retirement plans


New employees may enroll in the TIAA-CREF plan. This is a defined contribution plan, in that the contributions to the plan are a defined percentage of the employee's base wages. For participating employees hired on or after January 1, 2013, WMU contributes 9% of total gross earnings to the employee's retirement account. WMU’s contribution increases to 10% if the employee tax-defers at least 1% but less than 2%; to 11% if the employee tax-defers 2% or more. For participating employees hired before January 1, 2013, WMU contributes 11% of total gross earnings to the employee's retirement account. This plan is also self-directed, in that the employee decides how the funds in the account are invested amongst several options. The income received at retirement is based on the value of the account.

Vesting varies by your FLSA status:

  1. Exempt (salaried) employees have immediate vesting. The funds deposited into the employee's account belong to the employee without any delay or waiting period.
  2. Non-exempt (hourly-paid) employees have a 5-year vesting period. The funds deposited into an employee's account belong to the University until the employee has completed five full years of plan participation. Time in layoff status does not count toward vesting, effective July 1, 2003. Should the employee separate from University employment prior to completing five full years of plan participation, the funds are returned to the University. After completing five full years of plan participation, the funds in the employee's account belong to the employee.


New employees must establish their account by completing the benefits enrollment process, as provided via Benefits Enrollment. If an employee fails to complete the appropriate enrollment forms, participation may be waived.

Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS)

The University is not enrolling new employees in this defined-benefit plan. However, there are many employees hired in the past who actively participate and are acquainted with plan provisions. Questions can be directed to MPSERS at 1-800-381-5111 or Human Resources.

Tax-deferred savings program (optional)

Employees can add to their retirement savings by contributing to a 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred savings plan through payroll deduction. The funds you deposit into these retirement savings plans are deducted from your gross pay (before taxes are charged), accumulate tax-free, and are not taxed until they are received as income after retirement. These are self-directed plans, in that the employee decides how the funds in the account are invested amongst several options. The income received at retirement is based on the value of the account.

403(b) special pay plan

Upon separation from University employment, any payoff of annual leave, sick leave, and/or other designated payments is made by the University as an employer contribution to a 403(b) special pay plan account established on the employee’s behalf, to the extent allowable by plan provisions. Payment to the special pay plan is mandatory for gross payoff amounts totaling $2,000 or more combined, not to exceed the maximum allowable contribution under IRS regulations. Contributions in excess of the 403(b) plan limit, if any, will be made to a 415(m) plan account. Payoff of annual leave and sick leave amounts totaling less than $2,000 combined is made by payroll check. A separated employee’s access to special pay plan funds is governed by applicable IRS regulations.

Retiring from WMU

At WMU, a "retiree" is not just an individual who has participated in a WMU retirement plan and has stopped working. A WMU retiree is an employee who has applied for retirement, has met certain eligibility criteria, and is therefore eligible for certain benefits and privileges.


Applying for retirement

Please contact Human Resources approximately six to 12 months before your planned retirement date. A staff member will meet with you to discuss your retirement options and benefits and provide you other pertinent information.


Employees are to notify their supervisor and department head, in writing, of their exact retirement date, no later than one month prior to the actual day of retirement.

Completing final paperwork

Employees should arrange an appointment with Human Resources one month prior to their retirement date to complete retiree benefits paperwork.


Your retirement income will come from either MPSERS or TIAA-CREF—whichever plan you participated in during your working years. Additionally, you may have participated in the University's optional tax-deferred savings program, which will provide additional income during your retirement. Social Security will also provide part of your retirement income.

Benefits and privileges

WMU retirees qualify for a number of benefits and privileges. Eligibility for a particular benefit is governed by applicable policy, program definitions, rules and regulations. Benefits for WMU retirees are distinct from those for which active employees may be eligible. WMU retirees are not eligible for appointment or re-appointment to a benefits-eligible position at the University.

Human Resources will provide you with details on the following benefits when you meet to discuss your retirement.