Retirement Plan

We offer eligible employees (except students) the opportunity to participate in the Lesley University Retirement Plan, a 403(b) savings plan, administered by TIAA. Eligible employees may begin participating in the Plan upon their date of hire.

As an eligible employee, you'll determine how much you want to deduct from your pay and have deposited into your retirement account each pay period. Payroll deductions may be made on a pre-tax or after-tax basis. The University will make employee contributions; however, the University may change or suspend its matching contribution at any time in its discretion.

You must contribute at least 3 percent of your pay to receive a University match. You may receive a higher University match as your years-of-service increase. Contributions to your retirement account can be allocated to a number of investment funds and are immediately vested.

Employees who are scheduled to work less than 17.5 hours per week may participate in the Plan, but are not eligible for an employer matching contribution.

Newly hired employees will be automatically enrolled in the Plan (at the 3 percent payroll deduction level) upon their date of hire. If you are a new employee and you do not want to participate in the Plan, or you want to participate at a higher or lower deduction level, complete a Salary Deferral Agreement (Dynamic Form) within 30 days of your first payroll deduction.

If you waive enrollment within this 30-day period, all payroll deductions will be returned to you.  You may re-enroll in the Plan at any time in the future.

  • Enrolling in the Retirement Plan

    New employees are eligible to join the Lesley University Retirement Plan (the Plan) upon their date of hire, and are automatically enrolled in the Plan. Current employees who are eligible to participate in the Plan must complete a Salary Deferral Agreement (Dynamic Form) to indicate how much they want deducted from their salary each pay period.

    Employees who are scheduled to work less than 17.5 hours per week should complete this Salary Deferral Agreement (Dynamic Form). Once you have completed the necessary enrollment form, we'll process it and set up the appropriate deductions from your pay. Additionally, an application to establish your account will be sent to TIAA directly, and any money you or Lesley contributes to your retirement account will be allocated to the investment fund(s) you've selected.

  • Investing in the Retirement Plan

    The Plan offers many investment choices through TIAA. These include annuities, money market funds, real estate funds and equities. Each of these categories carries a different degree of investment risk.

    As a Plan participant, you may make changes to your investment choices by going online at, or by contacting a TIAA counselor anytime during the year. Call the TIAA Counseling Center at 800.842.2252 to speak to a counselor.

  • Pre-Tax Versus After-Tax Contributions

    The Plan allows employees to contribute to their retirement account on a pre-tax or after-tax basis. By making contributions on a pre-tax basis, you lower your current state and federal income taxes. In this scenario, you pay taxes on your investments and earnings when you withdraw the money from your account during retirement. Essentially, the taxes an employee pays when receiving income in retirement might be less than what they would otherwise pay now.

    In addition to being able to make pre-tax deposits, Plan participants may also make after-tax deposits to their retirement account by directing payroll deductions to the Roth 403(b) account. Under the Roth 403(b) feature, taxes are paid on deductions at the time they are taken from your pay. These deductions may be invested in the same funds as those invested with pre-tax dollars. However, if you meet certain requirements, when you withdraw your funds in retirement, your deposits and investment earnings are not taxed.

    You may want to consult your financial advisor or accountant before deciding whether to make pre-tax or after-tax contributions to your retirement account.

  • University Contribution Match Schedule

    Lesley will make matching contributions based on participant's percentage and annual earnings.

    Here is the University match schedule based on the participant's contribution level and earnings.

    Years of Service

    Employee Contribution

    Employer Discretionary
    Matching Contribution*

    Employer Discretionary
    Matching Contribution*

        Annual Salary:
    Less than $50,000 
    Annual Salary:
    $50,000or more
    Less than 5 3% up to 4.99% 5.00% 4.50%
    5 but less than 10 3% up to 4.99% 5.50% 4.95%
    10 or more 3% up to 4.99% 6.00% 5.40%
    Years of Service Employee Contribution Employer Discretionary
    Matching Contribution*
    Employer Discretionary
    Matching Contribution*
        Annual Salary:
    Less than $50,000 
    Annual Salary:
    $50,000or more
    Less than 5 5% or more 7.00% 6.30%
    5 but less than 10 5% or more 7.50% 6.75%
    10 or more 5% or more 8.00% 7.20%

    *For eligible employees who are scheduled to work 17.5 or more hours per week.

  • Salary Deferral Limits

    In 2016, Plan participants were able to defer up to $18,000 annually for their retirement account. They must complete a Salary Deferral Agreement (Dynamic Form) to indicate the percentage they want to have deducted from their pay.

  • Catch-Up Contributions

    Employees who are age 50 or older can make additional tax-deferred contributions ("catch-up contributions") beyond the general salary deferral limit described above. The catch-up contribution maximum amount was $6,000 in 2016.

  • 15-Year Rule

    The 15-Year Rule allows employees with 15 or more years of service at Lesley (including service at Art Institute of Boston) to contribute up to an additional $3,000 per year to the Plan on a pre-tax basis (up to a career maximum of $15,000 in these extra contributions). A few highly compensated employees who have made maximum contributions over many years may be limited in the extra amounts they can contribute under the rule.

    To determine if you are eligible to make additional deposits under the 15-Year Rule, TIAA must run a tax deferred annuity calculation. Eligibility is dependent upon prior contributions, salary and years of service. Employees may contact TIAA directly to request the 15-Year calculation. Eligible employees may also contact Human Resources at to determine if they are eligible for this Plan provision. 

  • Unused Accrued Vacation Contributions

    Participants who terminate their employment with Lesley University and are entitled to receive a cash-out of unused accrued bona fide vacation leave may choose to contribute all or a portion of that vacation leave cash-out to the Retirement Plan as a salary deferral.

    The specific percentage of your vacation leave cash-out that you elect to defer can be different from the specific percentage that was elected to defer from regular compensation. Your salary deferrals from your regular compensation plus any salary deferrals you elect to make from your vacation leave cash-out may not exceed the applicable legal limits allowed under IRS guidelines. Salary deferrals from a vacation leave cash-out is initiated by completing a Salary Deferral Agreement (DOC) and contacting Human Resources prior to the deadline for processing your final pay.

  • Changing or Stopping Elections

    You are allowed to increase or decrease your contributions to your retirement account during the calendar year by completing a new Salary Deferral Agreement (DOC) and submitting it to Human Resources. You may waive your participation in the Plan at any time.

    If you want to make a change, submit your new Salary Deferral Agreement to Human Resources before the tenth of the month for the change to take effect during that month. Past contributions to your retirement account will remain intact and will continue to be active.

  • Changing Your Beneficiary

    To designate or change your Plan beneficiary, you can do so online at, or by contacting TIAA at 800.842.2252.

  • Plan Documents

    The information on this website is meant to provide a general description of certain features of the Lesley University Retirement Plan, which became effective on January 1, 2012.

    The Summary Plan Description (SPD) (PDF) and Plan documents provide details and description of the Plan and its governance. If there are discrepancies between the information provided here and the Plan documents, the Plan documents govern.

    The SPD and Plan documents are also available for review in Human Resources. You may also request a free copy of the SPD from Human Resources.