Enhancements to the George Mason University Retirement Program

We are pleased to let you know about some exciting enhancements coming to employee retirement plans at George Mason University in late March. These changes are the result of a year-long review of the plans by Mason’s Investment Plan Committee (IPC)*, and CAPTRUST, an independent and nationally recognized financial consultant firm. These enhancements will expand offerings, reduce fees, and provide tiered levels of investment management. You do not need to take any action at this time, but you may review the new investments now.


These Changes will Affect the Following Retirement Plans

  • George Mason University Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)
  • George Mason University Cash Match Retirement Plan (Cash Match Plan)
  • George Mason university Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) 403(b) Retirement Plan
  • All other George Mason University-funded retirement plans


Details of the Enhancements

While the basic design of the retirement plans, including contribution rates and eligibility requirements, remain the same, we’ll introduce the following enhancements for both TIAA and Fidelity:

Expanded fund offerings in the ORP and Cash Match Plans

Both passive and index fund offerings will be expanded, and some lower-performing options removed. Both the TIAA and Fidelity target-date fund series remain unchanged.

 The same fund menu across all other plans

The number of funds in the 403(b) will be reduced to 32 (target-date funds are counted as one investment), offering a more focused choice of fund offerings. TIAA will continue to offer certain annuities in their investment lineup, including the TIAA Traditional guaranteed annuity.

 Lower investment expenses and administrative fees

Mason can leverage assets in the plans to negotiate lower investment share classes for some investments. The investment strategy remains the same, but you pay less in fees. The lower these expenses and fees are, the more of your savings you retain.

 Self-directed brokerage options

Both TIAA and Fidelity will offer a self-directed brokerage option that provides access to a broad range of mutual funds beyond the plans’ investment lineup. This is meant for more experienced investors, and it’s important to note that these investments are not monitored by the IPC.


Tiered Investment Menu

The investment options will be organized into groups – or tiers – based on individual investment styles:

Tier 1: “Do it for me”, offering target-date funds (TIAA-CREF Lifecycle funds and Fidelity Freedom® funds), which are a great option for those that want to ‘set it and forget it’, selecting a fund based on birth year which will automatically adjust and rebalance for you as you get closer to retirement.

Tier 2: GMU Core passively managed funds, offering lower-cost indexed options that attempt to match the performance of any of several market indexes (e.g., S&P 500®). It can provide broad diversification within a single type of asset class.

Tier 3: GMU Core actively managed funds, offering funds that have a manager who uses financial resources, forecasts, and their own judgment and experience to make investment decisions on what securities to buy, hold and sell within each portfolio.

Tier 4: Self-directed brokerage option, meant for experienced investors who want more investment selection. This account gives you additional opportunities to invest in a wide range of mutual funds across several asset classes outside of the plans’ investment lineup.

Tier 5: Deselected funds, which will be a temporary tier holding funds that will be removed from the menu for investment after the plan enhancements are implemented on May 16, 2023. These funds will be reinvested into new investments automatically unless you make a different selection ahead of the transfer.

You can review these new investment tiers and begin investing in them as early as March 31, 2023. The deselected funds will be shown online on the TIAA website and on the Fidelity website beginning March 31, 2023.


What’s Next?

You should be aware of the following dates for upcoming activities. No action is required at this time.

March 31

Tiers will be introduced and new funds available for investing on the TIAA website and on the Fidelity website. You can meet with a Fidelity or TIAA financial consultant to receive personalized advice on the new investment options.

Week of April 10

Transition Guide brochure mailed to homes with details of transition and available resources. It will also show how all current investments will be transferred to the new investment options.

April 18

In-person seminar to be held at 10 a.m. in Merten Hall, Room 1204. Directly following the seminar, TIAA and Fidelity representatives will be available to answer questions you may have until 12 p.m.

April 25 and 26    

One-on-one appointments with TIAA financial consultants from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Merten Hall, Suite 4100 as well as virtually. Register for an appointment.

April 25 and 27        

One-on-one appointments with Fidelity financial consultants from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Merten Hall, Suite 4100 as well as virtually. Register for an appointment.

May 16

Deselected funds will be removed and assets remaining in them will be moved to new funds. Specific details will be provided in the Transition Guide that will be mailed to your home in mid-April.


Make the Most of your Retirement Benefits

The upcoming enhancements provide an excellent opportunity for you to revisit your retirement plan options. A Transition Guide brochure with additional information will be mailed to you in mid-April. Carefully review the guide for more details on key dates, specific action steps, upcoming information sessions, and resources available to you.


  • You can reference our FAQs for general questions (PDF)
  • It’s our goal to keep you informed throughout the upcoming transition and will provide ongoing updates. If you have questions or need assistance, call TIAA at 800-842-2252, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) or Fidelity at 800-343-0860, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. (ET).