In a defined contribution plan, such as the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE), participants are responsible for their own investment decisions, based on individual risk tolerance, time horizon and objectives. To help meet these varying needs, VRS provides participants investment choices across a range of asset classes, risk levels and investment strategies so you can construct and/or invest in portfolios that address your individual needs.

If you elect the ORPHE option, you have a choice of three investment providers: Fidelity, TIAA and DCP. Each provider offers a range of diversified and distinct investment options to allow participants to create a portfolio with varied characteristics of risk and return.

Plan Structure and Investments

Two of the providers (Fidelity and TIAA) operate under a bundled plan structure. Bundled plans use one company for investment management, record-keeping, enrollment and marketing services. In addition to their company’s proprietary investment options, a bundled plan provider’s investment platform may include investment options from other fund companies. Fidelity Investments’ and TIAA’s plan administration and record-keeping fees are embedded within most fund expense ratios. Review fund prospectuses or other disclosure documents for more information about investment management fees, short-term trading fees and/or the investment restrictions for the funds you are considering.

The DCP program operates under an unbundled plan structure. VRS contracts for investment services separately from the record-keeping, enrollment and marketing functions, which are managed by ICMA-RC. Expense ratios with DCP include only investment-related fees. Administrative and record-keeping fees are charged separately.

Learn More About Investment Basics

The ORPHE Handbook provides an overview of investment basics, including risk factors, asset allocation and diversification and asset classes.

To see the investment options available from each ORPHE provider and to review investment performance, view Provider Options.

  • Handbook for Participants in ORPHE Plan 1 and ORPHE Plan 2 Learn more about your plan, benefits and investments in the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education.

  • Choose the Plan and Provider That’s Right for You As a new college or university president, chancellor or faculty member engaged in teaching, administration or research, you have a choice in retirement planning.

  • State Health Benefits Program Enrollment Form for Retirees, Survivors and LTD Participants (T-20879)

  • Designation of Beneficiary (VRS-2)

  • Designation of Beneficiary - Continuation (VRS-2A)

  • Request for Transfer of Funds to ORP (VRS-3ORP)

  • Conversion of Group Life Insurance Enrollment (VRS-35E)

  • Request for Health Insurance Credit (VRS-45)

  • Notice of Return to Covered Employment Optional Retirement Plan Retiree (VRS-7ORP)

  • Election to Participate – Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (VRS-65)

  • Termination Certification Form – Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (VRS-65D)

  • Open Enrollment Provider Change (VRS-65P)

  • Optional/Alternative Retirement Plan Health Insurance Credit Employer Certification of Service (VRS-75)

  • VRS Durable Power of Attorney (VRS-901)