WWU is not a public school as defined in state statute, and therefore initial Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) eligibility cannot generally be established at WWU. However, the TRS retirement plans are available in certain limited circumstances including:
- If you are a WWU faculty or staff who is concurrently employed at WWU and you are in a TRS-eligible, certificated K-12 position in the public schools, then you must participate in the appropriate TRS plan provided that your WWU appointment meets the minimum eligibility requirements;
- If you are a WWU faculty member who established eligibility for the WWU Retirement Plan (URP) on or after July 1, 2011, then you must make an election between the URP and TRS 3 during your first 30 days of eligibility;
- If you are an existing TRS Plan 1 member, you may continue contributing to TRS Plan 1 provided that you make that election during your first 30 days of eligibility. Note: TRS 1 was closed to new members after September 30, 1977.
You are a TRS Plan 3 ("TRS 3") member if:
- You came to WWU with an existing TRS 3 account and are employed in a faculty appointment as defined in the WWU Faculty Code.
(Note: If you had an existing TRS 3 account and came to WWU in a non-faculty appointment, you must choose between the WWU Retirement Plan (URP) and PERS 3. Retirement plan portability rules are the same for both TRS3 and PERS 3.)
- You are a faculty member as defined in the WWU Faculty code and elected TRS 3 instead of URP when you first became eligible for the URP on or after July 1, 2011.
All WWU employees participate in their applicable retirement plan from the point they establish eligibility. Retirement plan participation is a condition of employment.
TRS Plan 2 covers individuals holding positions as certificated teachers in the K-12 public school system. It is not normally available at WWU. Contact the Benefits Office if you believe you may be eligible for TRS 2.
TRS Plan 1 ("TRS 1") is closed to new participants. You are eligible to participate in TRS 1 as a WWU faculty or staff if:
- You had prior or continuing TRS 1 membership with established TRS 1 enrollment before October 1, 1977, and
- You work a minimum of 70 hours per month in any five months of a 12-month period.
Changing positions at WWU
If you enroll in a TRS plan during your WWU employment, you will have done so by signing an Irrevocable Election, since TRS is not otherwise available at WWU. As such, no future retirement plan changes will be available to you at WWU. E-mail the WWU Benefits Office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
When Transferring from Another Washington State Higher Education Institution
If 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 UniversityRetirement Plan (WWURP) instead of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). 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 UWRP 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 email@example.com to determine your retirement plan choices.