Welcome to the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE). As a participant in ORPHE, you have an opportunity to lay the foundation to meet your future retirement needs. Your partners are your employer, your plan provider and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

Eligible ORPHE Participants

The following employees are eligible to participate in ORPHE:

  • Presidents of participating public institutions of higher education.
  • Chancellors and presidents of the Virginia Community College System.
  • Full-time and part-time permanent, salaried teaching, research and administrative faculty members of participating public institutions (adjunct faculty members are not eligible for ORPHE).

Plan 1 and Plan 2

ORPHE Plans 1 and 2 are defined contribution plans where vesting is immediate. The total balance in your account is available to you when you leave covered employment and are not re-employed by a VRS-participating employer. The benefit depends on the contributions provided to the plan and the investment performance of those contributions. Although most features of the two plans are the same, a few areas of difference are highlighted below.

For full details about your plan, please refer to the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education Handbook for Participants.

You are covered under ORPHE Plan 1 if you have an ORP membership date before July 1, 2010, and maintain an account balance or an annuity. If you have a pre‐July 1, 2010, ORP account balance and moved to a defined benefit plan, you must have any combination of VRS creditable service and/or ORP participation that totals five years as of January 1, 2013, to be considered a Plan 1 member.

Contributions 10.4 percent employer contribution
Normal Retirement Age Age 65.
Earliest Eligibility for Group Life Insurance in Retirement Age 55 with at least five years of creditable service or age 50 with at least 10 years of creditable service.
Eligibility for the Health Insurance Credit
  • Age 50 and at least 15 years of service at retirement;
  • Pay health insurance premiums for individual coverage under qualifying health plans;
  • Receive a periodic distribution from the ORPHE or VRS defined benefit retirement plan; and
  • Maintain an ORPHE account balance.

You are covered under ORPHE Plan 2 if you have an ORP membership date after July 1, 2010, and maintain an account balance or an annuity.

Contributions 5 percent pre-tax employee contribution, plus 8.5 percent employer contribution. Your institution may increase the employer contribution up to a maximum of 8.9 percent, provided the increase is approved by your institution’s governing body and paid from non-state funds.
Normal Retirement Age Normal Social Security retirement age.
Earliest Eligibility for Group Life Insurance in Retirement Age 60 with at least five years of creditable service or when age and service equal 90.

Example: Age 58 with 32 years of creditable service.
Eligibility for the Health Insurance Credit Age 60 and at least 15 years of creditable service at retirement. All other requirements are the same as Plan 1.
  • 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)