Teachers' & State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS)

Eligible Employees

All permanent, full-time and three quarter-time employees (employed for the full academic year) at Appalachian State University.


To help build a sound financial future, both the employee and the University make pre-tax contributions to the retirement system fund on a monthly basis. The employee contribution, mandated by the NC State legislature is currently 6%.


The employee is fully vested with 5 years of creditable service. If termination occurs before 5 years of service, the individual is entitlted to a refund of the employee contribution, only.

Annual Retirement Benefit

The annual retirement benefit is based on the following formula stipulated by the NC Legislature as 1.82% of average final compensation times years of creditable service:

  • Average final compensation means: the average of the employee's four highest, consecutive years of pay.
  • Creditable service means: any period during which you contribute to the System provided you do not withdraw your contributions.

Normal Retirement (Unreduced Benefits)

  • Age 65 and 5 years of creditable service,
  • Age 60 and 25 years of creditable service, or
  • 30 years of creditable service at any age.

Early Retirement (Reduced Benefits)

  • Age 50 and 20 years of creditable service, or
  • Age 60 and 5 years of creditable service.

Death Benefit While in Active Service

Upon the death of an employee with at least one year of service, the beneficiary will receive a single lump sum payment that equals the highest 12 months' salary in a row during the 24 months prior to death, but not less than $25,000 or more than $50,000.

Death Benefit Following Retirement

Although the Retirement System's primary purpose is to provide retirement income, it recognizes that some employees will not live to enjoy their retirement benefits. To protect the beneficiary, the Retirement System provides the following:

The principal beneficiary may choose to receive monthly benefits for life instead of a refund where the employee (deceased) completed 20 years of creditable service regardless of age, or reached age 60 with 5 years of creditable service.

Termination of Employment

If the employee leaves the System for any reason other than retirement or death, he/she can:

  • Receive a refund of contributions (plus interest, if the employee has at least 5 years of contributing membership service)
  • Leave contributions in the System and keep all creditable service earned to that date,
  • Or roll contributions (plus interest if applicable) to another qualified retirement plan such as an IRA.

For more information visit the North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer Retirement Division website.

Teachers' & State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS) Handbook (PDF)