A pension may be the last thing on your mind when you’re starting your job at CUNY, but it is one of the first things you’re asked to think about. Retirement income is as much a part of your compensation from CUNY as your salary or benefits--and like the other aspects of your compensation, it is fought for and protected by the union.
New York State law mandates participation in a retirement system for full-time members of the instructional staff (HEOs, CLTs, and faculty). New hires have 30 days from the date of appointment to choose a retirement program, and the choice is irrevocable. (Learn more about making your permanent pension choice.) Full-time faculty and staff can choose between the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and the Optional Retirement Program (ORP). If a choice isn’t made within 30 days, the law mandates that you be assigned to TRS (you may think you will be defaulted into TRS but you still have to enroll in the plan). The choice between TRS and ORP is about choosing a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution plan.
TRS is a defined benefit plan. Benefits are based on age, final average salary, years of employment, and other factors.
ORP is a defined contribution plan. Benefits are based on the amounts contributed by the employer and employee and earnings of the employee’s choice of investments.
Learn more about the details and differences between TRS and ORP in this chart: