Human Resources and Payroll



Optional Retirement Plan


The choice of a retirement program is a critical one because of its impact on your financial security. As a university employee with academic rank, you have the choice between two retirement plans that are distinctly different:


Please note:  The VRS Hybrid Plan described below is for those who began employment on or after January 1, 2014.  For those faculty who were hired before January 1, 2014, please visit:




Hybrid Plan: Combination Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plan

The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Hybrid Plan is a combination of a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan.

Defined Benefit Component


The defined benefit portion of the Hybrid Plan is determined by the following: 


You contribute 4% of your pre-tax salary and Mason makes an actuarially determined contribution as well.


Your employer guarantees this benefit and assumes all investment risk. 


The greatest disadvantage of the defined benefit plan is that actuarial reductions are applied to your benefit if you do not qualify for an unreduced retirement.  To qualify for unreduced retirement from VRS, you must be of normal Social Security retirement age with at least 5 years of service credit or age 60 with age and service equaling 90.  The earliest reduced retirement eligibility is age 60 with at least 5 years of service credit.


Defined Contribution Component


The defined contribution component of the Hybrid Plan has a mandatory pre-tax contribution of 1% by the employee and then allows you to voluntarily contribute up to 4% more in 1/2% increments.  Mason also has a mandatory contribution of 1% and will match your contributions at the levels outlined below.  You make the investment choices (from a list of available funds) and assume all risks associated with these choices.  Your employer bears no responsibility for the outcome.



Total Mandatory Contributions Employee (pre-tax) Employer
Defined Benefit (DB) 4.0% Actuarially Determined Rate
Defined Contribution (DC) 1.0% 1.0%
Voluntary Contributions Employee Employer Match
.5% .5%
.5% .5%
.5% .25%
.5% .25%


.5% .25%
  .5% .25%
.5% .25%
Total Voluntary Contributions 4.0% 2.5%
Total Contributions 9.0% 3.5% + the Adjusted Actuarially Determined Rate


*Please note:  The Adjusted Actuarially Determined Rate equals the Actuarially Determined Rate minus the employer match.


For example, if you increase your DC voluntary contribution, it will increase the employer contribution to your DC component while reducing the employer contribution to your DB component.  Conversely, by reducing your voluntary contribution to the DC component, it will decrease the employer contribution on your DC component and increase the employer contribution to the DB component.



ORP:  Defined Contribution:

On the other hand, the Optional Retirement Plan is solely a defined contribution plan where vesting is immediate. Your retirement benefit is based on the contributions paid into the plan and the investment gains and losses on these contributions. Mason contributes 8.5% and you contribute 5% of your creditable compensation. Like the DC component of the VRS Hybrid Plan described above, you make the investment choices (from a list of available funds) and assume all risks associated with these choices. Your employer bears no responsibility for the outcome.


Next: Comparing Plans