Retirement Savings Plans
Northwestern University has two 403(b) retirement savings plans:
- Retirement Plan
- Voluntary Savings Plan
Attention: Elect to maximize the Retirement Plan's 5% match BEFORE contributing to the Voluntary Savings Plan.
- University automatic contribution of 5%. Once eligible, Northwestern will automatically contribute to your Retirement Plan account each pay period.
- Matched contributions of 1%-5% of eligible earnings. Once eligible, Northwestern will match your employee contributions to the Retirement Plan dollar-for-dollar up to 5% of your eligible earnings. Ensure you are maximizing the 5% match to the Retirement Plan before making any supplemental contributions to the Voluntary Savings Plan.
- Voluntary contributions. Contributions made before eligibility is met for the Retirement Plan OR If eligible for the Retirement Plan and contributing 5% in Matched contributions, then supplemental contributions to the Voluntary Savings Plan are allowed as a percentage of eligible earnings or as a flat dollar amount. This is entirely funded by pretax contributions by the employee.
|IRS Dollar Limits on Contributions||2021 Annual Limits|
|Eligible salary limit||$290,000|
|Employee total contribution limit||$19,500|
|Age 50 catch-up limit (above and beyond the limit)||$6,500|
|Employee and employer aggregate contribution limit||$58,000|
Any benefits-eligible employee scheduled to work half-time or more (18.75 or more hours per week) and is at least age 21, may participate in the Northwestern University Retirement Plan starting the first pay period available after their two-year anniversary.
Waiver Exception: You may be credited with two years of service if you submit a Waiver Form documenting that you (1) were employed by a tax-exempt educational or research organization or a state educational organization for at least a 24-month period ending 60 or fewer days before your Northwestern Date of Hire; and (2) received employer contributions under a Code Section 403(b), 401(a) or 401(k) retirement plan maintained by this organization 60 or fewer days before your Northwestern Date of Hire.
Voluntary Savings Plan
All actively employed Faculty and Staff with eligible earnings may participate beginning on their date of hire, there are no length of service or age requirements. Students, graduate students and temporary employees such as adjuncts (but excluding contractors, consultants, and leased employees) on the payroll of the University may participate to the extent they have eligible earnings.
If you are contributing to the Voluntary Savings Plan BEFORE becoming eligible for the Retirement Plan, your voluntary contributions will not automatically be transitioned to the Retirement Plan. Ensure you elect to maximize the Retirement Plan's 5% match BEFORE contributing to the Voluntary Savings Plan.
Eligible earnings for contributions to the 403(b) retirement plans generally means your base salary or wages. Eligible earnings do not include scholarships, reimbursements or other expense allowances, severance pay, stipends for living or other expenses (for example to graduate students) and NRSA earnings.
Supplemental pay and pay for temporary assignments and additional assignments are included for employees who do not meet the IRS limit of highly compensated, which is $130,000 in 2020 and 2021.