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Williams College Retirement Income Plan

Retirement Plan . | . Human Resources

College and Participant Contributions

Contributions to the Plan consist of College core contributions, optional participant contributions that the College matches, and optional participant contributions that the College does not match. Contributions are a percentage of base earnings. Base earnings do not include summer pay for faculty, overtime pay or bonuses.

Both College and participant contributions and related earnings are tax-deferred. This means that contributions are not considered taxable income for federal and state purposes when made to the Plan, but that retirement income from the Plan is taxed when received.

Core contributions

The College contributes 6% of each Participant's base earnings up to the breakpoint and 9% of base earnings above the breakpoint, regardless of whether the participant contributes to the plan. The breakpoint is $65,525 effective July 1, 2017, and changes each July 1 based on the amount that College salaries increase.

Example 1: Bi-Weekly-Paid Participant with Base Earnings Not Exceeding Breakpoint. In July 2017, the bi-weekly breakpoint is $2,520.19 ($65,525 divided by 26) for participants who are paid bi-weekly.  A participant whose bi-weekly base earnings during July 2017 are $2,520.19 will receive College core contributions of 6% of $2,520.19, or $151.21 on a bi-weekly basis.

Example 2: Bi-Weekly-Paid Participant with Base Earnings Exceeding Breakpoint: A participant whose bi-weekly base earnings are more than $2,520.19 during July 2017 will receive College core contributions equal to 6% of the first $2,520.19 of bi-weekly base earnings plus 9% of bi-weekly base earnings in excess of $2,520.19.  For example, a participant whose bi-weekly base earnings are $2,600 during July 2017, will received core contributions of $158.39 on a bi-weekly basis (6% of $2,520.19 + 9% of $79.81). 

Optional Participant Matched Contributions and Matching College Contributions

Participants may make optional matched contributions to the Plan of 1%, 2% or 3% of their base earnings. The College makes matching contributions equal to each Participant's optional matched contributions. A participant who elects to make maximum optional contributions of 3% will have total Plan contributions of 12% of base earnings up the breakpoint and 15% of base earnings above the breakpoint. These contributions consist of College contributions of 9% on base earnings up to the breakpoint (6% core contributions plus 3% matching contributions) and College contributions of 12% on base earnings above the breakpoint (9% core contributions and 3% matching contributions), plus the Participant's 3% optional contributions.

Optional Participant Unmatched Contributions and Matching College Contributions

A Participant who makes the maximum 3% matched contribution to the Plan may also make optional unmatched contributions to the Plan. The combined limit on voluntary employee salary reduction, i.e., a combination of matched and optional unmatched contributions is $17,500 in 2014. In addition, an employee who has reached age 50 by the end of a calendar year can make an additional contribution to the plan for that year. The amount of this additional contribution is $5,500 in 2014.

A Participant who has not yet satisfied the one-year waiting period for plan participation, is nevertheless permitted to make unmatched contributions.

Optional contributions may be initiated or changed by completing a Salary Reduction Agreement available in the Benefits Office.


A Participant is permitted to "roll over" an existing IRA and/or account under a previous employer's plan into a Rollover Account under the Plan. A Rollover Account can be distributed at any time.

No current taxes are payable on such a rollover. However, rollovers must be made within a time limit provided by law. Therefore, as soon as you become an employee you should contact the Benefits Office to find out what procedures you should follow.

Retirement Annuities and Supplemental Retirement Annuities

A Participant's optional unmatched contributions must be allocated by the Participant to either a Retirement Annuity or Supplemental Retirement Annuity. A Retirement Annuity receives a higher interest rate under the TIAA Traditional Annuity. However, amounts allocated to a Supplemental Retirement Annuity can be immediately transferred from TIAA Traditional to CREF (or TIAA Real Estate) instead of over the 10-year period required by the Retirement Annuities. Also, amounts allocated to a Supplemental Retirement Annuity can be withdrawn from the Plan by the Participant for any reason after he or she attains age 59-1/2 (see Withdrawals Prior to Separation from Service).

Leaves of Absence

During a paid leave of absence, both College and participant contributions continue to be made to the Plan based on salary paid during the leave. During an unpaid leave, no contributions are made. Contact the Benefits Office for an explanation of retirement contributions for someone receiving benefits under the College's Long Term Disability Plan.

Retirement Plan . | . Human Resources