USC Retirement Savings Program

USC is committed to providing you with as many options as possible to maximize your retirement savings opportunities. We support your retirement savings by making an automatic 5% non-elective employer contribution and matching one-to-one your own contribution up to 5%. To build even higher income for your retirement years, you can make additional supplemental contributions. Your employment at USC is covered by Social Security, so Social Security benefits also may be part of your retirement income.

The USC Retirement Program matches your pre-tax or Roth contributions up to 5% of your eligible earnings. The university also makes a 5% non-elective contribution whether or not you contribute. This means that the university will make a total 10% contribution if you make a 5% employee contribution.

YouUSC Match 100% VestedUSC Non-Elective*USC TotalGrand Total (You+USC)
*For employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2012, the USC non-elective contribution is subject to a four-year graded vesting schedule (25% per credited year of service). You will earn a year of vesting credit for each calendar year in which you are credited with at least 1,000 hours of service. Each year of vesting credit earns you 25% ownership in the non-elective portion of the USC contribution. The USC matching contribution, the portion that matches one-to-one your 1–5% contribution, is structured to meet the IRS 401(m) “safe harbor” criteria and is 100% vested at all times. (VESTING: An employee’s right to receive a present or future benefit is vested when it is no longer contingent upon the employee remaining in the service of the employer. If you were hired before Jan. 1, 2012, vesting of all contributions is immediate if you were hired before January 1, 2012.)

Faculty and staff employees (who are at least 21 years of age) may enroll in the basic retirement plan and begin making contributions which will be matched by USC the payroll cycle after completing one year of employment, regardless of the number of hours worked. Benefits will track your eligibility and notify you approximately 30 days prior to your eligibility start date. (Note: You may begin making contributions to the supplemental retirement plan as soon as you become a university employee.)

You choose the percentage of your eligible earnings you want to contribute, and the university will match your contribution. Although the university encourages you to maximize your retirement savings and participate at the highest possible level, if you decide you are not able to contribute to your retirement plan, USC will still contribute 5% (the “non-elective contribution”—see chart, above).

How your money is invested

Contributions are invested by your choice of investment providers from the selection offered by the university to manage the investment of the retirement plan contributions. Each provider offers a wide variety of investment options:

Compare our investment providers

Enrolling or changing enrollment

You can change your contribution level, your investment funds and your investment provider at any time—you do not have to wait for open enrollment. You also can transfer monies between providers and between investment funds at any time subject to limitations on the frequency and amount of transfers set by the investment and the investment providers.

Along with deciding the percentage you will contribute, you may also choose to have your contributions made before taxes are calculated, giving an immediate tax benefit, or as an after-tax Roth contribution which gives a future tax benefit providing you meet all the criteria when you withdraw the funds.

You also need to designate your beneficiaries, which you can do through your retirement provider online or by phone.

If you do not enroll before you are eligible to participate, a retirement account will be established for you under the plan’s default provisions—the USC 5% non-elective, the USC 5% match, and an employee 5% pretax contribution will be remitted to Fidelity and invested in the Vanguard Target Retirement Trust for the 401(a) plan and the Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement Fund for the 403(b) plan most appropriate for your estimated retirement age (assuming a retirement age of 65). However, you can change this default enrollment at any time, effective with the next pay period.

Accessing your money

You may leave your money in the USC retirement plans after you terminate employment. You are not required to take money out of the account until the IRS requires you to do so at age 72. The USC plan does not require taking the IRS-required minimum distribution from your retirement plan as long as you are still actively employed at USC; however, if you do not take the required minimum distributions following termination, USC will direct the provider to automatically distribute a payment to you from your 401(a) account to meet this obligation. Required minimum distributions from your 403(b) account can be satisfied with distributions from other 403(b) plans. If you have retirement accounts from other employers or IRAs, you will need to check with those plans to determine when they will require you to take a minimum distribution. We suggest you contact your provider to discuss options and any possible restrictions.

If you wish to cash out or rollover your USC retirement plan accounts after you leave USC, contact your investment provider to discuss your options and request the applicable forms. After completing the forms and having your spouse’s signature notarized (if applicable), submit the paperwork to Benefits (contact the HR Service Center for help). Benefits will forward the documents to your provider on your behalf. However, we recommend waiting one pay cycle from your termination date to start this process, to allow all final contributions to post to your account. Also, your withdrawal paperwork cannot be processed until Workday no longer shows you as active employee and specifies a termination date.

In some cases, funds may be accessed early – see our In-service distributions page for details.

Plan documents

Extensive information is available online from each of the participating investment providers. In addition, you can make an appointment with a retirement counselor from your investment provider to review your asset allocation, determine if you are saving enough to meet your retirement goals, and evaluate your distribution options at retirement. Appointments are available every month by phone or via Zoom. See the Retirement guidance page for details. If you need copies of any of the documents below, contact the HR Service Center.

USC Retirement Savings Program Summary Plan Description
Important Notice about the USC Retirement Savings Program 2022
Authorization to release information
USC Tax Deferred Annuity Plan 2020 Summary Annual Report
USC Defined Contribution Retirement Plan 2020 Summary Annual Report

Support staff retirement plan documents

Contact information

Fidelity Investments |
(800) 343-0860

(800) 842-2252

Vanguard |
(800) 523-1188

All retirement plan documents are available upon request.

Participant Fee Disclosure Notice

The Participant Fee Disclosure Notice, required by the Department of Labor, was developed to help ensure that participants (and also employees who are not participating or not yet eligible to participate) receive sufficient information regarding their plan and the investment options available to them.

USC has directed TIAA, one of the vendors available under the USC Retirement Savings Program, to collect this data from all of the vendors and present their information in a combined notice. This publication contains information that can help you make informed decisions about any account you may have in the retirement plan and includes:

  • Fees and expenses related to plan accounts
  • Participant rights under the plan
  • Rules related to providing investment direction
  • Details about the plan’s investment options, including investment-related fees and restrictions

For most participants, this notice will be provided annually. The most recent disclosures:

If you have any questions regarding this notice, please contact the USC Retirement Administration Office at