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Secure your financial well-being over time

How much and when do you start saving for retirement?

While the best answer is different for everyone, the general financial guidance suggests saving 15% of your annual salary as early as possible to experience a similar standard of living in retirement. Because of the powerful effects of compounded interest, the earlier you start saving, the more opportunity your savings have to grow.

You’ll find our employer-sponsored retirement savings plans are designed to provide you with immediate and future benefits. We make it easy for everyone to start saving.

of your salary into savings to maintain lifestyle in retirement

Generous employer match

A generous 200% employer match comes with our matching retirement savings plan for eligible employees, which starts automatically when you’re hired on day 30. Beginning July 1, 2024, all eligible new hires, regardless of age, are automatically enrolled in the matching retirement savings plan.

Tax perks now and later

Voluntary savings plans with your choice of tax advantages for now or in retirement are available to most employees to start, adjust or stop at any time.

High contribution limits

Choose the exact dollar amount to contribute monthly in our voluntary savings plans with high limits — which are even higher if you’re age 50+ and catching up.

Tax-advantaged retirement savings plans with your choice of carrier

Your choice to work with Fidelity, TIAA or both carriers

All of your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan options are designed to help you prepare financially for the future and save on taxes, either now or later. 

They each include easy access to review your accounts, including scheduling a consult about your questions at any time.


Both of our carriers offer the same 5 plans

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

There’s more than one way to save for retirement

1. Matching retirement savings

With our 200% employer match, you receive an additional 10% of your salary that goes directly into your retirement account, alongside your automatic 5% contribution, so you save 15% without even having to think about it.

Automatic matched savings start immediately when you’re hired

As an eligible new hire, you have 30 days to choose Fidelity, TIAA, or both as your retirement savings provider. If you don’t select a provider, we select TIAA’s target date fund for you, which you can always change at any time.

Our employer match per paycheck
Your contribution per paycheck
Your total retirement savings per paycheck

Immediate benefits from this pre-tax savings account

Your 5% 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:

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 from your retirement investments.

Quicker savings 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.

Keep your employer match after three years

When you start your matching retirement savings, we immediately match your contributions by 200%, 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 employment on the third anniversary of your hire date. Any type of employment with us, including regular, full-time, part-time or STEPS (with the exception of student employment) counts toward your vesting date.

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 the matching retirement savings plan as soon as you’re eligible! That’s why new employees are automatically enrolled when hired.

2. More ways to save

With UK’s voluntary plans, you’re able to make contributions in a specific dollar amount into different accounts with high limits, and choose to save on taxes now or later. 

Multiple account options through Fidelity and TIAA

We offer a 403(b) and 457(b), plus the option to do both and the option to do pre-tax and post-tax for both, for a total of four voluntary savings accounts. Your choice between retirement savings carriers is a choice between two different types of companies with similar services and investments. 


Fidelity is a mutual fund company with a big presence in the 401(k) and for-profit space. 

​Voluntary 403(b) with Fidelity

Voluntary 457(b) with Fidelity


TIAA works with many non-profits and, because they’re an insurance company, they’re able to offer an investment option with some guarantee of interest. 

Voluntary 403(b) with TIAA​

​Voluntary 457(b) with TIAA

Save on taxes now or later

When you choose either a 403(b) or 457(b) and select pre-tax, you’ll receive a small tax break now but, in retirement, you’ll be taxed on the savings you withdraw. Generally, this is beneficial when you expect to be in a lower income bracket when you’re retired.

Post-tax (also referred to as Roth) means all your income is taxable now and no or lower taxes when you withdraw your savings. Post-tax is a good strategy if you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket when you retire. It may also be a good strategy if you’re not sure what taxes will look like in retirement, so not all of your funds are in pre-tax accounts that are taxed when you take them out.

Lower income tax now, higher taxes in retirement
Higher income tax now, lower taxes in retirement
Up to 4 voluntary accounts: 403(b), 457(b), pre- and post-tax

Multiple account options for you = high contribution limit

We offer two different types of voluntary accounts, a voluntary 403(b) and a voluntary 457(b). The only difference is the 457(b) allows you to withdraw funds when you separate from service, at any age, with no early withdrawal tax penalty.

These limits are set by the IRS for 2024, and please be aware high-income earners may have different limits.

$23,000 total limit for post- and pre-tax accounts
$23,000 total limit for post- and pre-tax accounts
$46,000 total limit for all 4 voluntary accounts

At age 50+ you can save even more with catch-up opportunities

Didn’t start early? No problem

If you’re turning 50 or older in 2023, you’re eligible to tax defer an additional $7,500 into a voluntary 403(b) account and another $7,500 into a voluntary 457(b) account.

Retirement less than three years away?

During the three years prior to your year of retirement, or year of eligibility of retirement, you may be eligible to double the current year limit. In 2024, this might allow you to tax defer up to an additional $46,000 into a 457(b) account.

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

Get started or make changes any time

Most actions take place in myUK, including enrolling in a plan, choosing a carrier and setting up your contributions. Please note myUK uses these abbreviations when referring to an account as post- or pre-tax.

Beneficiary information is managed by your carrier, Fidelity and TIAA.

Set or change contributions

Online option in myUK
Log in with your UK linkblue credentials to enter employee self-service. Then click benefits and payment and then click matching or voluntary retirement.

Paper option
If you prefer, you could print and submit paper forms.

Printable forms

Set or change beneficiaries

Your retirement carrier, Fidelity or TIAA, manages your beneficiaries.

Get help with CAPTRUST Financial Wellness and Advice

CAPTRUST is an independent investment advisory firm that provides investment advice to UK’s retirement plan participants. If you need help navigating retirement benefits and other financial priorities, such as budgeting, debt, credit or college savings, you can rely on CAPTRUST’s advice program.

Learn more

Registered Investment Advisors

A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is a person or firm registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or a state licensing authority as a provider of professional financial management services.

A Registered Investment Advisor can provide investment advice and/or manage the allocation of your retirement accounts, but can also charge a fee for these services. You can arrange for this fee to be charged against your retirement account(s). These advisors may provide other financial planning advice or services. Participants should discuss these services and fees with the RIA before making a decision.

Our retirement vendors, TIAA and Fidelity, may each have a list of approved or preferred RIAs they can provide. UK does not recommend or endorse any particular RIA over another. RIAs are not allowed to indicate they are affiliated with UK or its retirement plan vendors in any way.

RIAs are required to follow UK's solicitation rules. If an RIA contacts you by phone, UK email, in person or by "cold call," they have not followed these rules, and you might consider looking for an advisor who demonstrates professional ethical standards. If you contacted the RIA and want them to contact you in the manner you choose, that is OK.

Selecting an advisor is completely your decision. Associates from Fidelity and TIAA continue to provide free one-on-one consultations and reviews to help with your retirement planning needs. You can learn more about setting up a meeting here.

If you already have an advisor, you can fill out the TIAA or Fidelity Registered Investment Advisor Authorization and Indemnification Form. Contact TIAA or Fidelity to obtain a form.

You can pay for these advisor services by signing the form as well. This allows you to give Fidelity and TIAA permission to deduct advisor fees directly from your retirement savings account.

If you are a Registered Investment Advisor, please consult this document addressed to RIAs, issued by the University of Kentucky.

Frequently asked questions

Are there different contribution limits based on your income?

Employees making more than $270,000 per year may have a decreased limit into the voluntary 403(b) account. Please contact for limit information.

When I'm enrolling or make changes in myUK, how are the plan names abbreviated?

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 

Are there any considerations for state income tax I need to be aware of?

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 ($31,110 for 2023) which may be indexed for inflation each year.

Can you provide a plan summary document?

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.

Is vesting pro-rated for employment contracts less than 12 months?

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.

What happens if I have the matching savings and I leave UK?

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.

What is UK's vesting period?

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.

What loan and hardship withdrawal options exist?

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 and Fidelity after all other sources of income are exhausted, including retirement loans.
  • Funds available for hardship withdrawal are limited to:
    • 1)Amounts originally invested in annuity contracts and annuity invested funds equal to the employee 5% contributions through TIAA, or
    • 2) voluntary retirement plan contributions to either vendor.
  • Employee 5% contributions to mutual funds/custodial accounts at either vendor, transfers to annuity investments, earnings from investments, and the employer 10% match 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 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 (Must provide tax documentation and dependent verification documentation, such as birth certificates, or marriage license and tax document);
    • Purchase of the employee's principal residence
    • Post secondary education for the next semester or quarter for the employee, spouse, or dependent (Must provide dependent verification)
    • Payments needed to prevent eviction or foreclosure (Limited to 2 per calendar year).
    • Funeral expenses for a spouse or dependent.


April 16, 2024

Annual period for employees to convert temporary disability leave to vacation leave now available through April 30

The annual period for University of Kentucky employees to convert their temporary disability leave (TDL) to additional vacation leave (VL) is now available through April 30.   Employees may request conversion of TDL hours to additional vacation leave through Employee Self Service in myUK. Employees should log into myUK, access Employee Self Service and select Working Time and Leave Requests.    

February 28, 2024

Watch a replay of the University of Kentucky Social Security presentation with Fidelity

Watch a replay here of this presentation to understand how Social Security fits into your overall retirement income plan, when to start claiming your benefit, and how it contributes to your overall retirement paycheck. The program was presented by Mike Fischer, Fidelity director and retirement planner.

May 30, 2023

TIAA hosting one-on-one summer sessions on campus

TIAA, one of two companies that handles UK’s matching retirement savings plans, will be holding free, one-one-meetings with UK employees this summer in two locations on campus. No matter where you are in life—just getting started or planning for retirement—a session with a TIAA financial consultant can help create a plan for retirements goals.  At the sessions, employees can get answers to these questions and more: 

February 07, 2021

Improvements to our retirement investment options

One of our most popular employee benefits is our array of retirement savings options. A committee of faculty, staff and administrators regularly review our plans to make sure our retirement savings options are the best they can be.  Effective March 31, we’re making four updates to further improve our plans: 

Retirement savings benefits

Regular full-time employees are eligible and automatically enrolled in the matching retirement savings plan. Voluntary plans are available to most regular and temporary employees. If your status is less than full time, review our eligibility details.

Contact our office

Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(859) 257-9519 option 3
204 Mandrell Hall