As a Montana University System (MUS) employee, you are eligible to participate in the MUS' voluntary supplemental 403(b) retirement plan allowing you to contribute and invest pretax dollars.  The amount invested, plus interest credited on any fixed options, and any gain on the variable options, is not taxable until you withdraw the funds at a future date.  Values may increase or decrease based on the investment performance of the mutual fund(s) you select. The 403(b) plan does not have an employer contribution, but is an additional way for MUS employees to achieve retirement readiness.  Employees can enroll in the plan by completing Salary Reduction Agreement and returing it to your campus Payroll or Human Resouces office and setting up an online account through the MUS' recordkeeper, Teachers Insurance And Annuity Association (TIAA).

MUS employees can participate in the Montana Public Employees’ Retirement Administration’s (MPERA) 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.

Frequently Ask Questions

How does the plan(s) work?

You elect the amount you wish to defer from your gross salary each pay period and choose investment options.  The amount you elect to defer is withheld from your paycheck before taxes.  Because pre-taxed investments reduce the amount of federal and state tax withheld, your net salary is not reduced by the total amount you defer.  You can start, stop, and change contributions to the 403(b) plan at any time.

How much can I defer?

Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), the annual deferral limit is the less of 100% of “includable compensation” or the applicable dollar limit.  The applicable dollar limit for 2020 is $19,500.  As a MUS employee you can contribute up to the limit for both the 403(b) and 457 plans, which means for 2020 you could have contributed a total of $39,000 ($19,000 to the MUS 403(b) plan and $19,000 to MPERA's 457 plan).  Your 403(b) and/or 457 contribution limits may need to be coordinated with other certain retirement options.

Additional Age-50+ Catch-up Provision allows those that are 50 or older to make additional catch-up contributions except during years when regular catch-up contributions are being made.  The additional catch-up amount that may be deferred is $6,500 for 2020.

Additional 15 Years of Catch-up Provision allows those that have worked at the MUS for at least 15 years and, have not elected to make pre-tax contributions up to the maximum limits for prior years, can make additional contributions above the 403(b) contribution limit.  To determine eligible contributions please see the MUS 15 Years of Service Worksheet.  The 15 years of service catch-up must be used before the age-50+ catch-up for the year.

When can I join the plan(s)?

You can join at any time.  Please contact your campus Human Resources office for more information.

What happens if I leave the MUS?

The IRC allows distributions of funds only upon retirement, separation from service with the participating employer, or attainment of age 70 ½.  At the time you sever employment, you may:

  • Keep your money invested in the plan(s) and, if desired, continue to manage your money within the offered investment options.  However, you will not be able to continue to make contributions.
  • Roll your money into another qualified retirement plan.  Be sure to confirm that the new plan will accept your rollover.  If you are under 59 ½ years old, you may also have to pay a 10% additional income tax for early distributions depending on the retirement vehicle.  Please contact a tax professional before making a final decision.
  • Withdraw your money in an elected and defined method, subject to ordinary income tax.

What if I need to withdraw some of my funds while still working?

The 403(b) plan allows for in-service distribution for:  age 59 ½, hardship and/or disability.  Loans may also be allowed.  Loans are subject to being repaid with interest by you to your investment account and usually must be repaid within five (5) years.  A hardship withdrawal may be subject to tax.  All loans and hardship withdrawals must meet specific criteria and be approved by the plan administrator.  For more information, please contact TIAA.  The MUS also recommends contacting your financial or tax advisor before making a final decision.

When can I withdraw my money without penalty?

With a 403(b) plan, you can withdraw your money when you retire or when you turn 59 ½ even if you are still working.  You must begin taking withdrawals by age 70 ½.  Federal and state taxes will apply.

What are MUS legacy 403(b) plans?

In February 2018 the MUS launched a new MUS 403(b) plan with an enhanced investment lineup and record keeping services provided by TIAA. Contributions, new accounts, and loans through MetLife, VOYA, and Valic ceased from that point forward.  MUS legacy 403(b) plans can be rolled into the new MUS 403(b) plan with recordkeeping services through TIAA.  Loans are not permitted from MUS legacy 403(b) plans.  If you need to contact these legacy vendors, please see the below contact information:

  • VOYA
  • TIAA

Manage Your Retirement

Take advantage of the guidance, education, and tools the MUS 403(b) recordkeeper, TIAA, offers to help maximize your retirement savings.  Please contact your campus Human Resources office, visit the MUS 403(b) website, or call 1-800-842-2273 for more information or to schedule a one-on-one consultation.


Disclaimer: If there are any discrepancies between this website and the provisions of Supplemental Retirement plans, the Plan Documents will prevail.