State Universities Retirement System (SURS)
View the NIU Pension Reform Information Website
For eligible employees, SURS participation begins on your first day of employment and requires a mandatory contribution to the retirement plan. Eight percent (8%) of your gross earnings is automatically deducted from your paycheck. The University contributes a percent of your salary into your retirement account. The contributions you make to SURS will not be subject to Federal taxes until you begin to withdraw funds following your retirement. Qualified distributions are not taxed by the State of Illinois. For further information on the taxation of SURS distributions, please visit the Publication 120, Retirement Income.
Participation in SURS is required if you work continuously for at least one academic term or four months, whichever is less, and your employment is not temporary, intermittent or irregular.
You are NOT eligible to be covered by SURS if:
- You are a student who regularly attends classes at a college or university participating in SURS and you are employed on a temporary part-time basis.
- You were employed under the Comprehensive Employment Training Act on or after July 1, 1979.
- You hold a J-1 or F-1 visa and have not established residency.
- You currently receive a retirement annuity.
Types of Plans
SURS offers a choice of three different plan options.
Two Defined Benefit Plans:
- Traditional Plan
- Portable Plan
One Defined Contribution Plan:
You have six months from your initial date of employment to select one of the three plans. This is a lifetime, irrevocable decision. After SURS is notified about your employment, they will send you a detailed Choice Packet to your home address. Note: If you do not make this decision within six months of your date of hire, you will automatically be enrolled in the Traditional Benefit Package. This default enrollment is also irrevocable.
Your choice of plans will determine the SURS benefits available to you for life and cannot be changed or revoked. For example, if you leave employment with the University and you are employed in the future by a participating SURS employer, you will be required to participate in your original plan selection.
Selecting a Plan
For assistance in selecting the SURS plan option that is right for you, review the SURS Retirement Planning Workbook. Pages 6 through 12 provide a detailed overview of the differences between the plans.
The following are important plan features to consider when making your SURS plan decision. Be sure to compare these features closely for each of the three SURS plans.
- Death benefits
- Survivor benefits
- Retiree health benefits
How to Enroll
Eligible employees are automatically enrolled in SURS when employment begins; however you must make a selection from one of the three plan options (Traditional, Portable, or Self-Managed). You will receive a packet of information in the mail from SURS to make your plan selection. Complete the plan selection form in your packet and mail in the self-addressed envelope to SURS within 6 months of your date of hire.
Note: If selecting the Self Managed Plan, the employer (State) contributions will only begin with the first full payroll period after SURS receives your SMP election.