Optional Retirement Plan

Faculty, administrators, academic professionals and university staff in categories 02 to 05 are eligible to elect the Optional Retirement Plan, provided all steps in the enrollment process are completed within 30 calendar days of written notification. The ORP is a defined contribution plan qualified under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. This plan offers you a choice of investment providers and investment options to meet your retirement goals. Investment consultants are available to meet with you on your campus.

If you fail to complete all steps in the ORP enrollment process during the 30-calendar-day enrollment period, you will forfeit your option to choose the ORP and be enrolled in ASRS, which may include retroactive contributions.

If you are reclassified and become ORP-eligible for the first time following your initial hire or eligibility date, the 30-calendar-day enrollment period begins on the date of written notification. ASRS contributions will continue until you complete the ORP enrollment process and ORP participation becomes effective.

Your election is irrevocable for the duration of your continuous employment in the Arizona University System—Arizona Board of Regents, ASU, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona—as long as you remain employed in an ORP-eligible position.


Participation begins on the first day of the pay period following completion of all enrollment steps, provided you complete all steps within 30 calendar days of your eligibility. You contribute 7% of your gross salary through payroll deduction on a before-tax basis, and the university provides a 100% matching contribution. While actively employed in the Arizona University System, you may not borrow from or withdraw contributions from your account. Long-term disability insurance benefits are included with this plan, and premiums are paid by the university.

You may change ORP investment providers once per fiscal year. To change your provider, you must complete the Election of Retirement Option Form and establish an account with the new provider. Changes will be effective as of the first of the pay period following the completion of both steps.


You are immediately vested in your contributions and become fully vested in the university’s contributions after five years of participation or reaching age 65, whichever occurs first. Prior to meeting five years of participation, ASU's matching contributions are held in a separate trust account administered by the university. If you separate employment before reaching vesting in ASU's portion, those funds are forfeit.

You may be immediately vested if you are the owner of a qualified retirement plan with a higher education or research organization at the time of eligibility. For immediate vesting consideration, fax a copy of a recent account statement from your prior eligible employer’s retirement plan to 480-993-0008.  Immediate vesting will not be established until you furnish this statement.

ORP phased retirement program

This program allows vested ORP participants age 62 or older to gradually transition into retirement, with the consent of their deans or vice presidents. You can reduce your work schedule for a maximum of three years while supplementing your income with ORP withdrawals while employed. Any vested, age 62 or older ORP participant considering retirement should first review the phased retirement information.


Your retirement benefit is based on the performance of your investments. Your ultimate account balance is a result of the number of contributions deposited to the ORP account and the performance of your chosen investments.  

  • Early retirement is between ages 50 to 64.
  • Normal retirement is at age 65.
  • Phased Retirement may begin at age 62.

Schedule a one-on-one consultation with the following providers:

  • Fidelity, 800-642-7131.
  • TIAA, 800-732-8353 or 480-350-3265.

Working after retirement

Any ORP retiree who is considering returning to work for ASU should be familiar with the university’s return-to-work rules before making any re-employment decisions.

Withdrawals and rollovers

When you leave employment with all Arizona University System institutions or participate in the ORP Phased Retirement Program, you may withdraw or roll over all or a portion of your ORP account balance. Contact your investment provider for application forms and instructions.

To obtain employer authorization of withdrawals, fax your form to 480-993-0008. Allow two to three business days for verification of eligibility, completion of authorization or return or submission of authorized forms. View the ORP plan document for more details.

Book traversal links for Optional Retirement Plan