Financial News Question

Now the University is offering us the chance to change from private retirement plans to the state system. I have never been on the state system, although if I had gotten in when I originally came it would have been advantageous, because it is not portable and I have never planned to stay. And rules for vesting in it have tightened since – most recently, I heard that someone who signed up today could only retire at full salary after 50 years of service.

I have not yet discovered what the particulars of the switch would be for my case, and I am loath to change to a system that is not portable and which, when last I checked, did not have a good option for cashing out, but I am wondering. Are other Louisiana faculty on TIAA-CREF considering switching to the state, given what is happening to the markets? What do you think?

Axé.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Financial News Question

  1. I have TIAA-CREF, too, and don’t know of a safer alternative. The state retirement plan is far riskier for me because it requires too many years of service to provide any retirement income.

    After taking one year away from the university, I qualified to make a sizeable withdrawal from CREF before returning to work. I took it to pay interest-incurring bills. As of the past few weeks, I’m at least no longer feeling quite so horrible about having done that.

    I know that none of this answers your question.

  2. Do not switch to a state plan that is not portable! Portability is one of the best things about an academic retirement plan.

  3. Z

    Joanna – gracias – portable, well ours will be portable if they are anything at all! As the economy declined I have thought I should cash out and buy gold bullion or something, but it is not allowed and I was told I was paranoid. Now they are saying we are silly NOT to have done that. Hah!

    A.F. You were able to withdraw from your LOUISIANA CREF? I have tried to do that and they don’t let you until you are 55 AND separated from the university. Or so they explained to me, multiple times.

    It really is a motivation to RETIRE at 55 – take the money and go – . HOW, oh HOW did you do it, A.F.?

  4. Oh, Z , it’s not a route you’d probably want to take. Long story short: I literally separated from the university for one year, 2007, and took the cash from CREF before I returned to the university. My interim career options didn’t pan out at *all* and even if they had, I’d have still missed N.O. too much to stay away.

  5. Oh, P.S.– You don’t have to be 55; you just have to separate from the university. CREF is willing to turn over the money ASAP, but the state takes about 6 months to verify that you’ve resigned and then loses the paperwork and misunderstands the rules for about another three more months (in my experience).

  6. Z

    Well I literally separated in 1996 and didn’t come back until 1998! By Louisiana law at least then, you couldn’t touch the money until you were I think 59.5, even if separated. Or at least so I was told, and I tried! I took minor CREF money from 3 other states. So, HMMMMM this is interesting – you can take it now if you separate (or a year later). Which means I could do something like start law school, take out mega loans, and then pay them with CREF money later if necessary. HMMMMM.

  7. Oh…the difference may be explained by our working for two separate branches of the state system. I think that each of these branches sets its own rules regarding withdrawal. Does that make sense? (I don’t want to out either of us by being even more specific.) I hope that the rules have changed across the board, though, since 1998, so that you can get cash, too! If it helps any, I went straight to CREF instead of contacting the institution, and CREF then had to explain the U’s own rules to HR and to those in charge of disbursing retirement benefits to teachers in Louisiana. CREF of course cannot get around a specific institution’s rules but does seem better able to interpret them than the state’s contact people. The age limit for my institution is 59.5, too, by the way; I had that point wrong in my comment.

  8. Hey AF and GRACIAS. It was state law then, supposedly. It is my understanding that it doesn’t go by institution but by state law, and anyway I am pretty sure we’re talking about the same part of the system [has branches in NO and BR and isn't Southern, and I will soon delete what is in these brackets] – and I went to CREF first. Honestly I haven’t checked on this in 10 years and I strongly suspect that either things have changed or it depends who you talk to or I was misinformed or misunderstood back then. In any case it is *fascinating* to me that it has been done in the fairly recent past. GRACIAS!!!!

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