Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

90-Day Enrollment Deadline, Rules, and Information

Full-time faculty, administrators, coaches, lawyers, engineers, and physicians are eligible for ORP.

An employee that is eligible for the Texas Optional Retirement Program (ORP) for the first time has a one-time period of ninety (90) calendar days from his/her eligibility date to enroll in the ORP (this enrollment deadline also applies to those appointed on a “visiting” status for at least one full semester of more than (4) four months). The 90-day waiting period begins on the last day of eligibility to participate in TRS and continues to run even after separation. An employee can continue to participate in ORP if less than full-time only after completing one long semester at full-time. Retirement contributions will be paid to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) until an election to participate in the ORP is made. The State matching contributions to the TRS are not refundable, only employee contributions.

In accordance with state regulations, failure to enroll in ORP before the expiration date of the one time 90-day election period will automatically and permanently enroll the employee in TRS. Vesting of the state-matching contributions to ORP occurs on the first day of the second year of ORP participation. A year shall mean twelve (12) cumulative full months. A full calendar month of leave without pay shall not be included in the calculation of such year. An academic faculty member shall be credited the three (3) summer months toward vesting in the ORP provided the faculty member teaches the Spring semester immediately preceding the summer and the Fall semester immediately following the same summer. If the employee does not continue employment and ORP participation at Sam Houston State University until vested, the state matching contributions must be refunded to the University unless the employee transfers with no break in service to another Texas state institution of higher education in an eligible ORP capacity. Electing to participate in the ORP in lieu of the TRS entails certain responsibilities for the employee, including selecting and monitoring of ORP companies and investments. The employing institution has no fiduciary responsibility for the market value of investments or for the financial stability of the companies selected by the employee. If the employee anticipates enrolling in retiree group insurance as an ORP retiree at a later date, the employee should refrain from withdrawing all ORP funds as this could affect insurance eligibility. Finally, it is sole responsibility of the employee to contact a SHSU-approved ORP vendor and arrange for the completion and submission of the (1) Sam Houston ORP Salary Reduction Agreement form, and (2) TRS 28- Election to Participate in Optional Retirement Program and/or Refund in order to enroll in the ORP. The retirement contribution rate is not guaranteed, may be different percentages among employees based upon one’s initial eligibility period, and is subject to legislative change.