Retirement
Public Employees Retirement System (PERS)


Eligibility and Participation

The PERS retirement plans cover most salaried- and temporary-paid contract classified, and bargaining unit employees who work a minimum of 70 hours per month in any five months of a 12-month period. Whether you are eligible for PERS 1, 2, or 3 is dependent on when you first become eligible with a State of Washington employer and any election options available.

Salaried Employees

If you are a salaried staff employee with an appointment of five or more months at 50% or greater, you are eligible for the PERS plans from the beginning of your eligible appointment.

Temporary Employees

If you are a temporary employee, you may become eligible to participate in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) if:

  • You are offered a work schedule in writing that requires five months of 70 or more work hours in a 12-month period. PERS eligibility will begin on your first day of assignment.
  • You complete five months of 70 or more hours of work in a 12-month period enrollment in PERS occurs following the completion of the fifth month.

Exception from PERS Membership

Under state law, if you are a full-time WWU student or the spouse of a full-time WWU student, you may be eligible to apply for an exception to membership in order to stop your participation in PERS. Please note however that by using this exception, you will receive no retirement contributions or service credit for the period covered and you will never be allowed to recover this time towards your retirement benefits. If you believe you meet this exception criterion, e-mail hr.benefits@wwu.edu for more information.

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PERS Plan 3

You are a PERS Plan 3 member if:

  • You chose or defaulted to this plan when you were first hired into an eligible position with a covered state agency or higher education employer on or after March 1, 2002, or
  • You chose or defaulted to this plan when you were first hired into an eligible position with a local government employer on or after September 1, 2002, or
  • You transferred to PERS Plan 3 from PERS Plan 2, or
  • You elected PERS 3 instead of the WWU Retirement Plan (URP) when you first became eligible for the URP on or after July 1, 2011. This applies only to faculty and professional staff..

All WWU employees participate in their applicable retirement plan from the point they establish eligibility. Retirement plan participation is a condition of employment.

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PERS Plan 2

You are a PERS Plan 2 member if:

  • You were first hired into an eligible position with a covered state agency or higher education employer between October 1, 1977 and February 28, 2002, or
  • You elected PERS Plan 2 when you were initially eligible on or after March 1, 2002.

Note: Each January, PERS 2 members who were enrolled prior to March 1, 2002, have the option to transfer to PERS 3. Learn More

All WWU employees participate in their applicable retirement plan from the point they establish eligibility. Retirement plan participation is a condition of employment.

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PERS Plan 1

PERS Plan 1 is closed to new participants. Participation is restricted to:

  • contract classified, classified and bargaining unit employees, whether permanent or temporary, who are prior or continuing PERS Plan 1 members with established PERS Plan 1 enrollment before October 1, 1977, and
  • who work a minimum of 70 hours per month in any five months of a 12-month period.

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Criterion Applicable to All PERS Plans

Changing positions at WWU

If you move from a PERS-eligible position to a URP-eligible position, e-mail the WWU Benefits Office at hr.benefits@wwu.edu to determine your retirement plan choices.

When Transferring from Another Washington State Higher Education Institution

If you are hired into a PERS-eligible position, but you were participating in a Washington state public Higher Education Retirement Plan with another higher education institution (CWU, EWU, SBCTC, TESC, WSU, UW), you may be eligible to participate in the Western Washington University Retirement Plan (URP) instead of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). To be eligible for an exception to participate in the URP you must have:

  • participated in a previous Washington State higher educational institution’s defined-contribution plan for at least two full years, AND
  • contributed immediately prior to coming to WWU (within 90 days), AND
  • be eligible for PERS immediately upon hire at WWU; AND
  • all of the funds must still be in the account at one of the current URP fund sponsors (Fidelity, TIAA-CREF or Vanguard) without withdrawals of any kind.

If you believe you meet this exception criterion, e-mail hr.benefits@wwu.edu to determine your retirement plan choices.

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Additional Resources

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Page Updated 11.26.2013