Benefits and Retirement Plans Shifting for Higher Ed Employees

by Winona Weindling

Article content is provided by HigherEdJobs.
The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) has released findings from its 2018 Paid Time Off, Tuition, and Retirement Benefits for Higher Education Employees Survey. The results show that many institutions are rethinking their benefits, especially their retirement plan offerings.

In 2014, nearly half of colleges and universities used more than one retirement service provider. In 2018, only one-third of institutions had multiple provider options. This change is not consistent across different types of universities. Ninety-four percent of public institutions offer two or more retirement plans, while 50 percent of private institutions offer one option and 40 percent of private institutions offer two options. At both private and public institutions, the most common retirement plan type is the 403(b).

This scaling back of plan options could be due to increasing reporting requirements for institutions, recent lawsuits about fiduciary responsibility, or a desire to balance options for employees. "It's critically important that we provide a menu of retirement investment options for the higher education workforce, but it is also important to find the right balance of options so that our employees are not overwhelmed," said CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley. "Higher ed leaders must also carefully evaluate the increasing complexity of recordkeeping and compliance."

The survey also looked at paid time off data. Results showed that over 90 percent of institutions had separate vacation and sick days, only about 25 percent of institutions offer paid leave for new parents, and, among schools offering paid parental leave, biological mothers, biological fathers, and adoptive parents were all nearly as likely to be offered paid leave.

The survey also found trends related to tuition assistance. Ninety-eight percent of colleges and universities offer tuition benefits to full-time employees. Over 80 percent of colleges and universities offer tuition benefits to spouses and children of employees. However, there has been a decrease since 2016 in the percentage of colleges and universities offering tuition benefits to same-sex partners and opposite-sex domestic partners.

If you'd like more information about the 2018 Paid Time Off, Tuition, and Retirement Benefits for Higher Education Employees survey, visit the CUPA-HR website.