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Optional Retirement Plan

Prior to July 1, 1990, all eligible employees of the Institutions of Higher Learning were covered under PERS; however, in the 1990 Legislative session, the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) were instrumental in getting House Bill 1070 passed which made an optional retirement plan available to the IHL teaching and administrative faculty. This alternative plan was established in recognition of the fact that many university level faculty members transfer from state to state a number of times prior to retirement and that such mobility in employment severely limits the ability to build a meaningful retirement benefit under a defined benefit plan such as PERS. This alternative plan is structured so as to be portable and transferable as teaching and administrative staff move from one state to another. It was also designed to serve as a recruiting tool to better enable Mississippi to attract qualified and talented university staff. Beginning July 1998, this criteria was expanded to include Librarians with academic rank, Coaches, and Administrators with Budgetary Authority.

In order to participate in the Optional Retirement Plan, an employee must first be eligible to participate in PERS. Therefore, the individual must first be in a covered position. If initially employed in a qualifying position after July 1, 1990, an eligible employee has the option to elect to participate in the Optional Retirement Plan. This option is only available during the first 30 days of employment. If no election is made during that period of time, the employee automatically becomes a member of PERS. The decision is then irrevocable.

The Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) is a defined contribution plan. In this plan, contributions made by the employee and the institution on your behalf are invested in a retirement annuity certificate in your name. The amount of monthly benefit received at retirement will be based on amount of funds contributed, the investment earnings of those funds, age at the time the employee begins receiving benefits, and the type of annuity chosen. Contributions made by the employee and the institution are immediately vested and continue to accumulate benefits, even if no longer employed by the State of Mississippi, or regardless of future employment.

Eligible employees who join ORP contribute 9.00% on total earnings up to a maximum of $255,000 annually. The University contribution on behalf of the employee is 15.75% of which 13.115% is remitted to ORP company chosen, making a total contribution of 22.865%.  The employer contribution balance of 2.6325% goes to PERS to fund the unfounded accrued liability of PERS as it does for all PERS participants.


The following companies are vendors for ORP.

  • ING
  • TIAA-CREF – Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund
  • VALIC – Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company


Advantages of ORP

Disadvantages of ORP

  • Access to contributions of 22.865%
  • Portability
  • Benefits available upon termination at any age subject to applicable penalities
  • Control over investment
  • Immediate vesting
  • Disability benefits based on account value
  • Survivor benefits based on account value
  • No additional credit for unused leave or military time
  • No cost of living increase
  • Employee does not have access to 2.6325% of employer contribution




This page is maintained by Lisa Giger. Send questions and comments regarding this site to lgiger@deltastate.edu