Human Resources and Payroll

Mason's Onboarding Portal


Instructional, Research and Adjunct Faculty

Benefits (Instructional/Research)

How do I enroll?

Be sure to attend a benefits orientation which is mandatory for all newly appointed faculty, both benefits eligible part-time (50% or more appointment time) and full-time. This new faculty session is scheduled at the NEW Center. This benefits orientation is held at Merten Hall, on the fourth floor, in the Human Resources & Payroll Department. Please let the front desk know you are here for the new faculty benefits orientation.

Instructional/Research Faculty Benefits Summary

Below is a summary of benefits available to Instructional and Research Faculty. When you visit the New Employee Welcome (NEW) Center, you will be signed up for a benefits orientation during which a Benefits Administrator will discuss these topics in detail. For more information on each topic, please click the hyperlinks which will guide you to our website, or visit


Full-time faculty and part-time salaried faculty (50% appointment time or greater) have the choice between two retirement plans. Faculty members who do not select a retirement plan within 60 days of their employment date will be irrevocably enrolled in the VRS Hybrid plan.

Faculty may choose between:

Optional Retirement Plan 401(a) (ORP)- Faculty may choose to invest with one of two vendors (TIAA or Fidelity Investments). Mason makes an 8.5% employer contribution and faculty make a 5% pre-tax contribution to the ORP. All contributions are immediately vested.

Virginia Retirement System Hybrid- Combination Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) plan. The DB portion has a mandatory employee participation of 4% with an actuarially determined employer contribution and vesting after 5 years of service. There is a mandatory employee contribution of 1% in the DC and a 1% employer match. Participants may contribute up to an additional 4% in the DC portion with a corresponding employer match.

Disability Benefits and Sick Leave

Mason provides two sick/disability plan options based on your retirement plan election.

With the ORP retirement option, faculty are enrolled in the Traditional Sick Leave Program. With Traditional Sick Leave, 9-month Instructional and Research faculty receive 30 days of traditional sick leave per academic year and 12-month faculty will earn 10 hours each pay period (see more details below under "Leave"). Faculty who elect the ORP are automatically enrolled in a Long-term disability plan through the Standard.

New faculty electing the Virginia Retirement System Hybrid are enrolled in the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP). VSDP participants receive a balance of sick leave and family/personal leave in January of each year (see more details below under "Leave"). Short-Term and Long-Term disability insurance, and coverage in the VRS Long-Term Care Program are also included.

Supplemental Retirement Accounts

Tax-deferred annuity or tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) investment plans are available to all Mason employees. These plans allow you to contribute a portion of your income towards a supplemental retirement plan through salary reduction, including an employer match, in some circumstances. Mason employees may participate in one or both of the plans up to the annual IRS limit. Contributions to either plan may be made pre-tax or under a Roth post-tax designation.

403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuity, offered through TIAA & Fidelity Investments.

VA 457 plan, offered through the Commonwealth of Virginia. The record-keeper for investments is ICMA-RC.

Health Insurance

Faculty who work at least 20 hours per week may choose one of the following health insurance plans through the Commonwealth of Virginia:

Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield (PPO or HDHP)

Aetna (CDHP)

Kaiser Permanente (HMO)

TRICARE Supplement

Plans include prescription and dental coverage (with the exception of the Tricare Supplement which has no dental). For more information on up-to-date rates and coverage information please visit the DHRM website.

Flexible Reimbursement Accounts

Mason Faculty may enroll in Flexible Reimbursement Accounts (FRA) through the Commonwealth of Virginia:

The Dependent Care Flexible reimbursement account allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for eligible dependent care expenses (child or elder care). If you are married and file taxes separately, you may deposit up to $2,500 per plan year. If you are single or married filing jointly, you may deposit up to $5,000 per plan year.

The Medical Flexible reimbursement account allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for IRS-approved medical expenses. You may deposit up to $2,600 per plan year and the funds may be used for the expenses of anyone in your household.

Basic Life Insurance

Mason automatically provides basic life insurance policy through Securian Financial for full-time faculty and part-time salaried faculty (50% appointment time or greater) effective on the employment date. Mason pays the entire premium. The basic benefit is two times the individual's annual salary. There is also an accidental death and dismemberment provision of four times the individual's annual salary. A benefit amount above $50,000 is subject to taxes, per IRS regulations.

Optional Insurance

Optional Life Insurance: Designed to supplement the basic VRS group life insurance coverage, VRS Optional Life, underwritten by Securian Financial, gives you the opportunity to purchase additional insurance for you and your family. The plan offers limited guaranteed issue within 31 days of employment. These plans are available to salaried employees who are benefits eligible.

Commuter Choice Transit Benefit

Full time (1.0) FTE employees may participate in the Commuter Choice program, which provides eligible employees with a monthly benefit to cover the cost of commuting by public transit or vanpool (up to the maximum amount allowed by federal law). Please see the Commuter Choice page for enrollment details.

Employee Tuition Waiver Program

Faculty and staff (including adjunct faculty and non-student wage) are eligible for tuition waiver. Conditions apply; for important details, please see the Tuition Exemption policy and the Tuition Waivers page.

Please note: Classes must be scheduled outside of working hours (unless you are on an approved formal flexible work agreement) and on a space available basis. To pursue a degree using a tuition waiver you must be accepted in the degree program. Dependents are not eligible for tuition waiver. Law School courses are excluded unless you have been accepted into the degree program.

Please contact the Registrar’s Office at 703-993-2441 for enrollment information.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Employees who have been employed with George Mason University for at least a year, and who have worked at least 1,250 hours during that year, are covered by theFamily and Medical Leave Act(FMLA). Under FMLA, the University is required to provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons. For more information, please visit FMLA.


Please click on either 9 month or 12 month Instructional/Research Faculty to view the leave options associated with the respective employee classification.

9 Month Instructional/Research Faculty - or - 12 Month Instructional/Research Faculty

Benefits Action Summary

Action Needed

Time frames are based upon first day of employment.

Within 30 days 1
  • Health insurance (complete form even if waiving coverage)
  • Flexible spending accounts 2
  • Additional life insurance
Within 60 days
  • Faculty Only: Elect retirement plan (ORP or VRS Hybrid Plan)3
Within 90
  • ORP Faculty and VRS rehires/transfers (Plan 1 and 2) only:

    Opt-out or auto-enroll in 403b supplemental retirement account and cash match

Within 1 Year
  • VRS Purchase of Prior Service4
After 1 Year
  • VRS faculty and classified staff become eligible for short-term disability after a one-year waiting period. The date of any eligible event must occur after one year of employment to invoke short-term disability for that event.

Next time to enroll will be during Open Enrollment in May of each year with an effective date of July 1. Eligible employees may also enroll, stop, or modify within 60 days of a qualifying mid-year event (e.g. marriage, divorce, or birth of a child). Any mid-year changes will be effective on the first day of the month following receipt of the completed election form except for adding newborns, adopted children, or children placed for adoption. In these cases, health coverage is retroactive to the first day of the month in which the birth, adoption or placement for adoption occurred.

2 You must enroll every plan year in a Flexible Spending Account to have an account, so if you want to continue using your FSA or enroll in one for the first time, be sure to take action during Open Enrollment.

3 Irrevocable retirement plan election between the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Hybrid Plan. If the form is not received within 60 days of the date you are first employed, you will be covered by the VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan.

4 You have one year from your date of hire to arrange to purchase prior service at approximate normal cost. After that one-year period, the rate for most categories of service will change to actuarial cost.

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