Retirement Plans

Mount Holyoke College currently has two retirement plans for employees:

  1. Defined benefit retirement plan (cash balance - Aetna) and 
  2. Defined contribution retirement plan (403(b) - ING Financial partners).

Cash Balance Group Pension Plan

This Pension Plan, managed by the USI Consulting Group, is for bargaining unit employees.  Non-bargaining unit employees who participated in the plan prior to January 1, 1989, maintain an accrual vested benefit under this plan and will receive periodic plan benefit statements.

Beginning January 1, 1989, you are eligible for continued participation in this Pension Plan only if your employment is covered by a union contract.

Receiving your Pension

Normal retirement date is the first day of the month on or after the 65th birthday. Federal and state laws mandate that you cannot be required to retire. Pension payments will not begin until actual retirement, but you must begin receiving your annuity benefit no later than April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which you reach age 70 1/2. Once pension payments begin they continue as long as you live. You should contact the Human Resources Department at least six months prior to your anticipated retirement date.

Under certain conditions, you may retire early, i.e., within ten years before normal retirement date, on a reduced pension.

If pension payments begin before Social Security payments, you may elect an option under which you will receive larger monthly pension payments until the date Social Security payments begin. Pension payments will be reduced after that date. This option provides a uniform total retirement income from both sources as early as possible.

If your employment is terminated for any reason before the normal or an early retirement date, you may elect one of the following options:

  • Option A: You may leave your contributions and interest in the plan and receive the monthly pension payments that can be provided by these amounts beginning on your normal or early retirement date. You will retain a full non-forfeitable interest in the total pension which can be provided by the College's contributions to the pension plan made to the date of your termination. This is called vesting. The amounts of the non-forfeitable interest are actuarially determined and are computed in accordance with plan provisions and federal pension laws. Pension payments will start at normal or early retirement date.
  • Option B: You may elect to have your contributions refunded to you with interest and the pension that could have been provided by these amounts will be cancelled (cashed-out). You will be entitled under this option (which conforms to present federal pension law guidelines) to receive the total pension benefit (if any) provided by the College's contributions up to your date of termination.

When you were initially enrolled in this plan, you were given a copy of the official agreement between the College and the Aetna Insurance Company. You should consult this agreement for details and final determination on questions of eligibility or amount of benefits, etc.

Further details and an explanatory booklet are available from the Human Resources Department.

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan for Staff

All employees except student employees are eligible to make elective (voluntary) contributions to the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan, which provides investment opportunities with ING Financial Partners.  Eligible employees are required to participate in the defined contribution plan upon completion of one year of service and attainment of age 21.  The one year waiting period will be; waived if an employee's most recent employer was an eligible employer and the employee was eligible for participation in the former employer's plan.   Please see the Summary Plan Description of the 403(b) plan for more information.

College and Employee Contributions

Once an employee becomes eligible to participate in the retirement plan, he or she is required to contribute 5 percent of base salary over $30,000 (if any).  These contributions are made on a pre-tax basis.
The College contribution is currently 10.5 percent of base annual salary.

Contracts are issued to each participant by ING Financial Partners.  Your contributions are made by salary reduction or deduction and remitted to ING Financial Partners by the Human Resources Department. The plan provides you with full and immediate vesting in both the contributions made by the College and made by you.  Unless otherwise specified, employees will be automatically enrolled in the Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA).

College contributions to your annuity cease when your active employment is terminated.

Voluntary Supplemental Retirement Contributions Options

All employees except student employees  may also make elective deferrals to the 403(b) plan. Under the Internal Revenue law, you may elect to make voluntary pre-tax or ROTH contributions to your retirement plan through salary reduction or deduction. A certified financial advisor is available to meet with employees on campus on a regular basis.  Human Resources staff will not be able to provide you with financial advice and we encourage you to schedule an appointment with the advisor to learn more about your investment choices.

You may continue individual voluntary contributions until retirement, but you must, according to federal pension law, begin receiving your pension benefits no later than April 1 following the year in which you reach the age of 70 1/2. Participants may begin receiving benefits under the early retirement provisions as early as age 55. In the event of your death prior to retirement, the full current value of the annuity accumulation, including the College contributions, will be paid to the beneficiary you have named.