Decision Making Guide

Decision Making Guide

When considering your financial future, there are many issues you’ll want to consider. This guide will help walk you through these issues. You can compare your options to determine which of the two employer-paid retirement plans is right for you.

A PDF of this document is available: Guide #1: Decision Making Guide 2019 


Disclaimer – Please read carefully

This guide provides an overview of PERS/OPSRP and the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP). The descriptions of OPSRP and PERS in this guide are based on Oregon Public Universities’ understanding of applicable legislation, as amended and affected by judicial decisions, as of the date of this guide. In addition, PERS regularly adopts administrative rules to implement legislative and operational changes. The descriptions of OPSRP and PERS are therefore subject to modification and/or clarification by new legislation, court decisions and PERS’ administrative rulemaking. This material is intended to assist in the administration of the plan and it includes a summary of common ORP Plan provisions. Contact your benefits office for more information and assistance with questions, transactions, or circumstances not included in this guide. In case of conflict between this guide and the official plan documents of the ORP and Oregon state law regulating PERS/OPSRP, the official plan documents, Oregon state law, and federal regulations will govern. A copy of the ORP plan document is available through your campus benefits office upon request or here on the OPURP website.



The information in the ORP Retirement Plan Decision Making Guide is an integral part of the resources available to support your choice between two employer-paid retirement plans:

  • Public Employees Retirement System (PERS)/Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan (OPSRP)
  • Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)

The following materials encompass the critical resources available to help you make an informed decision. Please read all of these materials to ensure that you understand this important decision regarding your retirement benefits at Oregon Public Universities which include Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University. The retirement benefits provided to you as an eligible academic or academic administrative employee of Oregon Public Universities can be a significant part of your income in retirement. You must make a one-time, irrevocable decision by the end of a six month waiting period from your hire date. You may choose between membership in PERS/OPSRP, or participation in the ORP. You may make your decision at any time during your six month waiting period, but keep in mind that this is a one-time opportunity. The plan you choose will be the plan you participate in during the entire time you work for Oregon Public Universities as an eligible employee, even if you leave your employing institution and are later rehired.

Your PERS/OPSRP membership is based on your employment history with any PERS participating employer. Your ORP participation tier is based on your original date of hire by of the Oregon Public Universities. Other rules may apply to PERS/OPSRP members – please see your benefits office for further details. If you are interested in the ORP, allow yourself enough time before your enrollment deadline to contact the ORP providers, obtain plan literature, and complete an account application.


Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)

The Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) is a defined contribution, participant-directed plan that is exclusively for Oregon Public Universities’ employees. If you elect to participate in the ORP, your participation date and contribution tier are based on the date you are hired as an ORP eligible employee. Prior PERS service time while employed by any of the Oregon Public Universities, if any, is recognized for vesting purposes. However, if you subsequently leave to work for another PERS employer, PERS does not give credit for the time you were an ORP participant.

Additional, Voluntary Retirement Plans

In addition to PERS/OPSRP and the ORP retirement plans, two voluntary retirement savings plans are also available. You may enroll in these plans as soon as your employment begins or any time thereafter. You decide the amount of your pre- and post- tax contributions.

  • Tax-Deferred Investment 403(b) Plan – TDI

The TDI program is an IRS Section 403(b) plan that offers tax-sheltered annuities and mutual funds. See an online description of the Oregon Public Universities Tax-Deferred Investment 403(b) Plan at

  • Oregon Savings Growth Plan (OSGP)

The OSGP is a governmental IRS Section 457(b) deferred compensation plan. A description of the OSGP is available online at

This guide will help you make your retirement plan enrollment decision, and contains many helpful features:

  • Issues you may want to consider as you make your enrollment decision
  • Questions to help focus your decision making
  • Enrollment instructions

You must return your completed ORP or PERS Election Form to your campus Benefits Office by the 10th of the month in which you are eligible.

Eligible employees who do not make a written enrollment selection during this period of time will be automatically enrolled in PERS/OPSRP.

Your decision to participate in the ORP or PERS/OPSRP is, by law, a one-time irrevocable decision.


This section of the Decision Making Guide highlights key provisions of the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan (OPSRP), and the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). For more information, refer to these Retirement Options Comparisons:

  • Guide #3 for PERS/ORP Tier One and Tier Two employees
  • Guide #4 for OPSRP/ORP Tier Three employees
  • Guide #5 for OPSRP/ORP Tier Four employees
  • Guide #8 for ORP Post-Doc employees

The summaries in these guides compare key features of your retirement options.


Section 1 – Highlights of the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)

ORP Investment Choices

You direct how your employer and employee contributions are invested.

Transfers among investments may be made to the extent allowed by each provider and as permitted under applicable Income Tax Regulations. Information about available investments including investment performance, expenses, prospectuses and fund fact sheets can be obtained from the ORP Plan Providers.

Mutual fund and/or annuity investments are currently offered through these providers:

  • Fidelity Investments
  • TIAA
  • AIG (VALIC) (closed to new participants)

When you enroll in the ORP, you select a provider to invest contributions (employer, employee, tier 4 ORP employer match, and, if applicable, rollovers) in the investment funds you choose.

  • You may change investment companies for future contributions once per calendar year, subject to any restrictions or fees required by your current provider.
  • You may transfer existing account balances among ORP investment companies at any time, subject to provider fees and restrictions.
  • You may change among investment funds offered by your current provider as often as permitted by the provider.

See the ORP Plan Highlights for more information about the providers and where to find information about the investment programs and services they offer.