VRS introduced several updates to the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE) effective January 2020.

Last year, VRS met with faculty and human resource staff at higher education institutions across Virginia. Informed by those meetings, provider investment performance data, industry best practices and in keeping with its fiduciary duty, VRS made changes to improve services and reduce costs for ORPHE participants.

Participants now have a choice of two service providers: DCP (record kept by ICMA-RC) and TIAA for new contributions. Fidelity Investments is no longer a provider option.

A new investment lineup at TIAA became effective January 3, 2020. The updated lineup continues to give you the ability to create a diversified retirement portfolio that matches your investment goals and preferences. Learn more about the new TIAA investment options . Details are also available at TIAA.org/vrs.

There are no changes to DCP. You can mix and match funds among the different investment paths, and you are not limited to investing in only one path at a time. Learn more about the DCP options.

VRS continually monitors providers and investment performance, making changes to plan investments or providers from time to time.

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DCP (ICMA-RC) Fall 2019 Transition Presentation

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TIAA Fall 2019 Transition Presentation

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VRS ORPHE 2020 Faculty Outreach Fall 2019 Recorded Webinar

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Date Event
June 2019 Fidelity Investments will no longer be a provider option for new hires, who will choose between DCP or TIAA.
September 2019 VRS will mail an ORPHE 2020 Transition Guide to active participants as well as retired and former employees.
September 2019 – January 2020 ORPHE 2020 Education Sessions: VRS staff will make campus visits to meet with participants.
October 1 – November 15, 2019 Extended Open Enrollment Period for future contributions
  • Participants will have an opportunity to choose a provider to direct future contributions, effective with the first payroll in January 2020. Current Fidelity participants will have the option to retain existing assets with Fidelity or transfer balances to DCP or TIAA.
  • Additional information will be provided for participants with existing balances with Fidelity Investments and deselected TIAA investments.
January 2020
  • On or before January 3, 2020: Participants will be enrolled in their new DCP or TIAA accounts and receive enrollment confirmations with important details.
  • January 16, 2020: First pay date for new contributions based on provider selected during the extended open enrollment period.
  • January 24, 2020: Last day to request paperwork from Fidelity for plan sponsor-approved withdrawals and distributions.
  • January 31, 2020: Last day to process plan sponsor-approved withdrawals and distributions received in good order from the plan.
  • January 31, 2020: Blackout period at Fidelity begins prior to 4 p.m. During this time, you will be unable to access or modify your Fidelity account.
February 2020
  • Participant assets will transfer to their selected providers (DCP or TIAA).
  • The assets of participants who made no election during open enrollment will transfer to DCP, unless they completed a form to request that their assets remain with Fidelity. Forms will be available during open enrollment.
  • February 7, 2020: On or about this date, your existing Fidelity primary fund balances will transfer to your new provider (unless you chose to keep your balance at Fidelity).
  • On or about February 14, 2020: Blackout period expected to be lifted at DCP and TIAA. Blackout period may end sooner if possible.
To better align with industry best practices, address investment performance and fee transparency, as well as to ensure that participants across all VRS plans have access to similar services, VRS, in its role as plan fiduciary, will make the following changes:
  • ORPHE participants will have a choice of two investment providers: TIAA and DCP (record kept by ICMA-RC).
  • Fidelity Investments deselected as provider option.
    • Beginning June 1, Fidelity will no longer be a provider option for new hires choosing the optional retirement plan. Participants hired on or after June 1, 2019, will have a choice of two providers: TIAA and DCP.
    • Beginning October 1, current Fidelity participants will choose another provider to receive contributions as of January 2020, with the option to retain existing assets with Fidelity or transfer balances to a different provider.
    • Fidelity investments will be accessible through the self-directed brokerage account offered by TIAA and DCP.
  • The TIAA investment lineup will be updated as part of the effort to reduce fees, enhance fee transparency and improve performance. The updated investment menu will provide a mix of investments intended to meet participants’ varying financial goals.
  • Balances in the TIAA Group Retirement Annuity (GRA) or the TIAA Retirement Annuity (RA) contract will remain in those contracts and will not be impacted by the updates to ORPHE.
  • Both TIAA and DCP will continue to offer a self-directed brokerage account to allow maximum investment flexibility with a broad offering of mutual funds, single securities and exchange-traded fund (ETFs) options for knowledgeable investors that desire additional investment choices.
Note: These changes to the VRS ORPHE do not impact the 403(b) plan(s) operated by your higher education institution or current ORPHE contribution rates.

If you are a retired participant or former employee with Fidelity and/or TIAA accounts, please review this important information:

  • This fall, you will receive detailed information by mail regarding the changes to ORPHE.
  • Retired or separated Fidelity participants may retain your existing account(s) with Fidelity. Or, you may choose to transfer your assets to DCP or TIAA.
  • If you retired or separated employment before February 15, 2017, with an existing balance in the TIAA Group Retirement Annuity (GRA) or the TIAA Retirement Annuity (RA) contract, your existing balance will remain in those contracts and will not be impacted by the updates to ORPHE.
  • Handbook for Participants in ORPHE Plan 1 and ORPHE Plan 2 Learn more about your plan, benefits and investments in the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education.

  • Choose the Plan and Provider That’s Right for You As a new college or university president, chancellor or faculty member engaged in teaching, administration or research, you have a choice in retirement planning.

  • State Health Benefits Program Enrollment Form for Retirees, Survivors and LTD Participants (T-20879)

  • VRS Group Life Designation of Beneficiary (VRS-2)

  • VRS Group Life Designation of Beneficiary - Continuation (VRS-2A)

  • Request for Transfer of Funds to ORP (VRS-3ORP)

  • Conversion of Group Life Insurance Enrollment (VRS-35)

  • Request for Health Insurance Credit (VRS-45)

  • Notice of Return to Covered Employment Optional Retirement Plan Retiree (VRS-7ORP)

  • Termination Certification Form – Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (VRS-65D)

  • Optional/Alternative Retirement Plan Health Insurance Credit Employer Certification of Service (VRS-75)

  • VRS Durable Power of Attorney (VRS-901)