Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

The Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is an alternative to the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement system (TSERS). Eligible employees have the option to select TSERS, a defined benefit plan as qualified under Section 40l (a) of the Internal Revenue Code or the alternative ORP, a defined contribution plan as qualified under Section 403 (a) of the IRC. The ORP allows portability of accumulated contribution balances. It provides flexibility by offering participants a greater choice of investment and distribution options.

The University cannot offer advice on retirement plans or guarantee investment returns, interest rates, dividends, or tax advantages. We do recommend careful review of the ORP company literature along with the handbook, UNC Retirement Programs Guide (PDF). You may wish to consult a qualified financial or tax professional for assistance in deciding which of the plans better meets your retirement goals.

For additional information including a fund comparison visit the University of North Carolina Education website (www.northcarolina.edu) or go directly to the ORP information

The authorized carriers for the ORP are:

Eligible Employee

  • Permanent full-time or three-quarter time Faculty and EHRA Non Faculty.


  • Employee contributes 6% of his/her monthly gross salary on a pre-tax basis
  • Employer contributes a percentage that is established by the N.C. State Legislature

Allocation of Contributions

  • Contributions may be made to any one of the ORP carriers
  • Changes may be made among the carriers at any time.
  • Contributions may be split between among a variety of account options


Employee contributions are immediately 100% vested. Employer contributions are 100% vested after 5 years of participation in the ORP. If termination occurs prior to 5 years of employment, the ORP employer contributions may continue to be vested if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • Your new employer is a higher education institution that sponsors a substantially similar retirement plan or “core retirement plan”.
  • The successor plan offers a “like retirement plan.”
  • You begin participation in that successor plan within 12 months following your termination of employment with the University of North Carolina.