As a new college or university president, chancellor or faculty member engaged in teaching, administration or research, you have a choice in retirement plans. Depending on your membership date, you may be eligible for either a Virginia Retirement System (VRS) defined benefit plan or the Hybrid Retirement Plan. Or, you may elect a VRS Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE) defined contribution plan.

Your Choice of Two Plans

The retirement plan options available to higher education institution employees are based on your membership date.

Membership Date Plan Choices
On or after January 1, 2014 Hybrid Retirement Plan ORPHE Plan 2
Between July 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013 VRS Plan 2 ORPHE Plan 2
Before July 1, 2010 VRS Plan 1* ORPHE Plan 1
*Participants electing VRS with fewer than five years of combined VRS and ORP service by January 1, 2013, will be in ORPHE Plan 2.

Compare Plans in myVRS

Register for or log into myVRS to compare your retirement plan options. Once logged in, you will see a choice of plans based on your start date. Your choice is effective on your hire or rehire date, so any contributions payable by you will be due retroactively. If you do not select an ORPHE plan within 60 days of your hire or rehire date, you will be covered by the applicable VRS defined benefit or hybrid plan.

In myVRS, you may evaluate features of VRS and ORPHE plans based on answers to key questions, including:

  • What are your options if you leave employment but do not retire?
  • How much control will you have over your plan?
  • What’s your comfort level with investment risk?

Use the plan comparison calculator in myVRS to view your projected retirement income under VRS and ORPHE plans. View the projection in today’s dollars or future dollars, monthly or annually. See how your projected income changes after adjusting certain assumptions, such as your salary or rate of return.

Understanding the Difference: Defined Benefit, Hybrid and Defined Contribution Plans

VRS Plans 1 and 2 are defined benefit plans that provide a monthly benefit during retirement based on your age, total service credit and average final compensation.

The VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan combines a defined benefit (DB) contribution component and a defined contribution (DC) component. The DB component provides the foundation of your future retirement benefit. VRS manages the investments and related risk for this component. The DC component provides tax-deferred savings. You manage the investments and related risk.

ORPHE Plans 1 and 2 are defined contribution plans. Your retirement benefit is based on contributions, the investment choices you make and the gains and losses on those contributions. Your total account balance is available to you when you leave covered employment.

You have 60 days from your hire date to elect your plan. No matter which plan you choose, be sure to complete the Election of Retirement Plan - Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (VRS-65) and return it to your human resources office.

If you elect an ORPHE plan, you will choose one of three investment providers. 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.

  • Choosing Your Retirement Plan Use these comparison guides to help you select the best plan for your needs

  • 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)