In its oversight role as plan sponsor for ORPHE, VRS monitors provider companies and investment performance, making changes to plan investments and provider companies from time to time.

Earlier this year, VRS met with faculty and human resource staff at higher education institutions across the commonwealth. Informed by these meetings, provider investment-performance data, industry best practices and in keeping with its fiduciary duty, VRS is making changes to ORPHE to improve services and reduce costs for plan participants.


To better align with industry best practices, address investment performance and fee transparency, as well as to ensure that participants across all VRS plans have access to similar services, VRS, in its role as plan fiduciary, will make the following changes:
  • ORPHE participants will have a choice of two investment providers: TIAA and DCP (record kept by ICMA-RC).
  • Fidelity Investments deselected as provider option.
    • Beginning June 1, Fidelity will no longer be a provider option for new hires choosing the optional retirement plan. Participants hired on or after June 1, 2019, will have a choice of two providers: TIAA and DCP.
    • Beginning October 1, current Fidelity participants will choose another provider to receive contributions as of January 2020, with the option to retain existing assets with Fidelity or transfer balances to a different provider.
    • Fidelity investments will be accessible through the self-directed brokerage account offered by TIAA and DCP.
  • The TIAA investment lineup will be updated as part of the effort to reduce fees, enhance fee transparency and improve performance. The updated investment menu will provide a mix of investments intended to meet participants’ varying financial goals.
  • Balances in the TIAA Group Retirement Annuity (GRA) or the TIAA Retirement Annuity (RA) contract will remain in those contracts and will not be impacted by the updates to ORPHE.
  • Both TIAA and DCP will continue to offer a self-directed brokerage account to allow maximum investment flexibility with a broad offering of mutual funds, single securities and exchange-traded fund (ETFs) options for knowledgeable investors that desire additional investment choices.
Note: These changes to the VRS ORPHE do not impact the 403(b) plan(s) operated by your higher education institution or current ORPHE contribution rates.
Date Event
June 2019 Fidelity Investments will no longer be a provider option for new hires, who will choose between DCP or TIAA.
September 2019 VRS will mail an ORPHE 2020 Transition Guide to active participants as well as retired and former employees.
September 2019 – January 2020 ORPHE 2020 Education Sessions: VRS staff will make campus visits to meet with participants.
October 1 – November 15, 2019 Extended Open Enrollment Period for future contributions
  • Participants will have an opportunity to choose a provider to direct future contributions, effective with the first payroll in January 2020. Current Fidelity participants will have the option to retain existing assets with Fidelity or transfer balances to DCP or TIAA.
  • Additional information will be provided for participants with existing balances with Fidelity Investments and deselected TIAA investments.
January 2020
  • On or before January 3, 2020: Participants will be enrolled in their new DCP or TIAA accounts and receive enrollment confirmations with important details.
  • January 16, 2020: First pay date for new contributions based on provider selected during the extended open enrollment period.
February 2020
  • Participant assets will transfer to their selected providers (DCP or TIAA).
  • The assets of participants who made no election during open enrollment will transfer to DCP, unless they completed a form to request that their assets remain with Fidelity. Forms will be available during open enrollment.

If you are a retired participant or former employee with Fidelity and/or TIAA accounts, please review this important information:

  • This fall, you will receive detailed information by mail regarding the changes to ORPHE.
  • Retired or separated Fidelity participants may retain your existing account(s) with Fidelity. Or, you may choose to transfer your assets to DCP or TIAA.
  • If you retired or separated employment before February 15, 2017, with an existing balance in the TIAA Group Retirement Annuity (GRA) or the TIAA Retirement Annuity (RA) contract, your existing balance will remain in those contracts and will not be impacted by the updates to ORPHE.
  • 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)

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

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

  • VRS Durable Power of Attorney (VRS-901)