Defined Contribution Retirement Plan

These are important details regarding this plan.


To qualify for the employer and employer matching contributions, an employee is eligible for the plan upon the later of attainment of age 21 or the completion of a two year period of service. In some cases prior employment may count toward the two-year period of service.


Employees can make their own pre-tax or Roth (after-tax) contributions to the Retirement Plan immediately upon hire.

You may contribute amounts either to a Retirement Choice or a Retirement Choice Plus contract, or both, up to the IRS limits. Please complete the appropriate application(s).

Upon satisfying the two-year period-of-service requirement, each fiscal year the employer will contribute 6% of regular salary up to $50,100 and 9% of any amount over $50,100.

Note: Employer contributions will go to the employee's Retirement Choice account, even if employee contributions are made to a Retirement Choice Plus account. Therefore, you must complete a Retirement Choice application if eligible for employer contributions.

Amherst employees eligible to receive employer contributions may contribute up to 3% of salary on a pre-tax or after-tax basis and receive a match on their contributions. Folger employees may only contribute pre-tax contributions in order to receive a match.


Upon satisfaction of the two-year period-of-service requirement, the employer will match the first 3% of salary contributed by the employee to an Retirement Choice or Retirement Choice Plus account. All matching employer contributions will go to an Retirement Choice account even if the employee contributes only to a Retirement Choice Plus account. Therefore, you mush complete an Retirement Choice application if eligible for employer matching contributions.

Note: Folger staff employees must contribute 3% of salary to receive employer matching contributions. The employer will match the equivalent of 9% of regular salary up to $50,100 and 12% of any amount over $50,100.


"Vesting" refers to an employee's right, usually earned over time, to receive some retirement benefits regardless of whether or not they remain with the employer. Your contribution, the employer core, and the employer matching contributions to this plan will be 100% vested immediately.


Your employer offers you a variety of investment choices from an array of asset classes. You can see a list of the investment choices under this plan on the Investment Choices page.


Expenses vary from investment to investment. To learn about expenses associated with an investment, see a list of the investment choices under this plan on the Investment Choices page, and read the Fact Sheet or the prospectus for that investment.


Your Amherst College Defined Contribution Retirement Plan is designed to provide you with income throughout your retirement. Leaving money in your account allows the funds to grow on a tax-deferred basis.

Please note: You may withdraw all funds if you are separated from service. Employee money in Retirement Choice Plus contracts may be withdrawn upon age 59½ even if still employed. Hardship withdrawals may only be withdrawn from Retirement Choice Plus contracts.

The Amherst College Library Defined Contribution Retirement Plan allows you to receive a cash withdrawal. This may be restricted by the terms of your TIAA-CREF contracts. Taxes and penalties may apply.

  • 59½ in Service

    You generally can withdraw funds, attributable to elective deferrals, from your Retirement Choice Plus account while still employed once you have reached age 59½. The amount you can withdraw is subject to your plan's rules.
  • Hardship Distribution

    You can withdraw your elective deferrals (but not earnings) due to a financial hardship from your Retirement Choice Plus account while still employed. Generally, you must show an immediate, significant need that cannot be met with other resources, including loans from your retirement plan. The plan allows IRS safe harbor rules and only allows hardship whithdrawals for the stated reasons -- purchase of primary residence, post-secondary education, medical expenses, to prevent eviction or foreclosure from primary home, funeral expenses and repair of damage to principal residence from things such as hurricanes or floods. If you receive a Hardship Distribution, your contributions and any associated employer matching contributions will be suspended for a period of six (6) months. 
  • Interest Only 

    You can receive the current interest earned on your TIAA Traditional Account in monthly payments from your Retirement Choice account. Your principal remains intact while you receive the interest. (Note: These payments are generally available to individuals between ages 55 and 70½ when minimum distributions are required.) 
  • Other in Service 

    If your Retirement Choice Plus contract permits, you can withdraw cash from your account while still employed by your institution, but you generally must meet an IRS-defined "triggering event," such as attainment of age 59 1/2, to qualify.
  • Rollover

    If you have had an IRS-defined "triggering event," and your plan allows withdrawals, you can roll over your accumulations to another retirement plan that will accept them or to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Direct rollovers -- from one account to another -- are nontaxable and not reported as income to the federal government. Your plan's rules specify when you are eligible for a distribution.
  • Retirement Loan 

    Some retirement plans allow you to borrow funds from your account. Generally, under the Internal Revenue Code the maximum loan allowed from all your employer's plans is up to $50,000 or 50% of your vested accumulation, whichever is less. (This may be further limited by the terms of your contract.) Borrowing funds from your retirement plan is a nontaxable event as long as you repay your loan in full.
  • Lifetime Retirement Income
    • One-life annuity 

      Provides income for as long as you live.
    • Two-life annuity 

      Provides lifetime income for you and an annuity partner (your spouse or someone else you name) for as long as either of you live.
  • One- or two-life annuity with guaranteed period 

    Guarantees income for up to 20 years, as long as the period you choose does not exceed your life expectancy. It ensures that income continues to go to your beneficiaries if you (one-life annuity) or both you and your annuity partner (two-life annuity) die before the end of the guaranteed period for the remainder of the guaranteed period.
  • Lump Sum 

    You can withdraw all or part of your account in a single cash payment, depending on your plan rules and the terms of your contracts. (Your right to a lump-sum distribution from your TIAA Traditional Account may be restricted to taking 10 annual payments under those terms). Talk to your benefits office for details.
  • Minimum Distribution Option 

    Generally, you must begin taking minimum withdrawals from your account by April 1 following the year in which you turn age 70½ or retire, whichever is later. This can help you defer the minimum required distribution while keeping you in compliance with federal regulations.
  • Retirement Transition Benefit 

    If your contract allows, in the Retirement Choice contract you can withdraw, in cash, up to 10% of your accumulation at the beginning of a conversion to lifetime annuity income. The amount you withdraw will reduce your lifetime annuity income accordingly. 
  • Single-Sum Death Benefit 

    A set amount your beneficiary(ies) will receive from your retirement account if you die before taking income.
  • Small-Sum Distribution 

    If your Retirement Choice contract doesn't otherwise allow cash distributions, upon separation from service you can withdraw your entire retirement savings if your TIAA Traditional Account value does not exceed $2,000 and your overall account balance is below a limit set by your employer's plan (typically $4,000). If your plan does allow cash distributions, upon separation you may be able to withdraw your TIAA Traditional accumulation if the value does not exceed $2,000. Talk to your benefits office for details.
  • Systematic Withdrawals 

    You can choose to receive regular income payments (minimum $100) on a semimonthly, monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual basis. You can increase, decrease or suspend the payments at any time. 


For more information, contact your Human Resources Office.


Loans are available from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $50,000 from each employer. How much you can borrow depends on the amount you currently have in the plan and whether you have other outstanding loans. If you have accumulations in other employer's plans, you may be able to transfer or roll them over to the Amherst College and Folger Shakespeare Library Retirement Plan to increase your maximum loan amount if Amherst College and Folger Shakespeare Library Retirement Plan accepts rollovers.

Please note: Loans may only be taken from a Retirement Choice Plus contract. Employees can move employee dollars (with the exception of TIAA Traditional funds) from their Retirement Choice contracts to their Retirement Choice Plus contracts to take a loan.

1 The availability of certain distributions may depend on the type of contract underlying your plan. Also, if you're married, your right to choose an option may be subject to your spouse's right to survivor benefits. Talk to your benefits office for details.