403(b) Savings Plan

Emory's 403(b) Savings Plan is a tax-deferred retirement plan which allows you to contribute a percentage of your pay before taxes and receive a basic contribution and matching contribution from Emory.

Contributions and investment earnings in a 403(b) grow tax-deferred until withdrawal (assumed to be retirement), at which time they are taxed as ordinary income.


For Employees to Contribute

Full-time and part-time employees can immediately begin to contribute pre-tax dollars to the 403(b) Savings Plan.

For Employer Contributions

All eligible full-time and part-time employees who are at least 21 years of age, have completed one year of service and have worked at least 1,000 hours in a consecutive 12-month period are eligible to participate in Emory's Basic Contribution and/or Emory's Matching Contribution.

Emory University will begin to make contributions on your behalf effective as of the first day of the calendar month which coincides with or next follows the date on which you satisfy the eligibility requirements.

You may be eligible to waive the one year service requirement if you participated in a prior employer's sponsored retirement plan and received employer contributions in the plan immediately prior to joining Emory. To request the waiver, you will need to compete the Certification of Participation in Self-Service (select Benefits then 403(b) Savings Plan Election).

Employer contributions will start as soon as administratively possible following the completion of the waiver. The waiver is effective upon the date of completion and cannot be applied retroactively.


You can make contributions to one or more of the following retirement vendors:

* Vanguard is the default vendor for Emory

Employee Contributions

You can contribute from 1% to 91% of regular salary, subject to IRS maximum deferral limits. The IRS sets limits annually. The maximum deferral limit for 2019 is $19,000 per calendar year. If you are age 50 or over, you can make additional catch-up contributions (for 2019, the IRS limit is $6,000).

  • Employee’s Basic Contributions (contributions up to 2% of regular salary) are matched by Emory.
  • Employee’s Supplemental Contributions (contributions over 2% of regular salary) are not matched by Emory.

Employer Contributions

Upon completion of one year of service in which an eligible employee has worked 1,000 hours, Emory will begin making employer contributions.  Employees do not have to make a contribution to receive Emory’s Basic contribution, but will have to contribute to receive the Emory Matching Contribution.

Emory’s Basic Contribution (6%):

Emory provides a basic contribution of 6% of regular salary. Once you are eligible, Emory’s 6% contribution to your retirement will be effective on the first of the month coincident with or next following the date your eligibility is satisfied.

Emory’s Matching Contribution (1.5% to 3%):

The matching contribution will be effective at the same time your employer basic contribution begins as long as you are making the appropriate contribution. If you are not making a contribution, the Emory Match will begin after you have satisfied the eligibility requirement and your contributions start. Emory will match employee contributions as follows:
  • Employee contributes 1% of regular salary — Emory matches with a 1.5% contribution.
  • Employee contributes 2% of regular salary — Emory matches with a 3% contribution.

Below is an example of the total 403(b) contributions received for an eligible employee who contributes 2% to the 403(b):

  • Employee Basic Contribution: 2%
  • Employer Matching Contribution: 3%
  • Employer Basic Contribution: 6%
  • Total 403(b) Contribution: 11%


  • All Emory Employer contributions are on a pre-tax basis.
  • Voluntary employee contributions will be contributed to the Plan on a payroll-by-payroll basis.  You should consider this if you want to maximize the Matching Contributions you can receive under the Plan.
  • You are only eligible to receive Matching Contributions in payroll periods in which you make voluntary employee contributions.

How to Enroll

You can enroll in the 403(b) Savings Plan at any time throughout the year.

Step 1: Enroll using Self-Service

Use Self-Service to enroll, enter your contribution amounts, and select your vendors. You can also calculate your maximum allowed contribution using an online retirement modeling tool. View step-by-step instructions

Step 2: Complete the online enrollment form for each vendor you selected

Contact the vendor(s) you selected directly to complete this step. You can do this either online or by phone:

Fidelity Investments
Website Instructions:
Select Register and enter the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. From there, you are presented with a series of questions to set up the account. You then select your funds.
Website instructions:
Select Enroll Now. From there, you are presented with a series of questions to set up the account.
Website Instructions:
Go to Retirement Plan Participants; then select Enroll Now under Join Your Retirement Plan. The Plan number for Vanguard is 091326. From there, you are presented with a series of questions to set up the account. Select your funds.


  • Basic contributions are the first 1-2% of your own contributions, up to 3% of Emory’s matching contributions, and Emory’s 6% employer contribution. 

  • Any amount that you contribute above 2% is considered a supplemental contribution. You are not matched on supplemental contributions.

  • If you do not select funds, you will be placed in the default Lifecycle Fund of your selected vendor(s) until you make your selections.

Ways to Invest

The Plan offers you four ways to invest. All investments involve a level of risk, therefore, before making any investment decisions, it is recommended that you speak with your selected investment vendor(s) or your personal financial advisor.

Lifecycle Investments offer you the convenience of investing your contributions into a fund that is managed for you by providing “ready-mixed” investments.

Lifecycle Investments are allocated and invested based on your projected retirement timeline, starting out with a higher allocation to stocks when you are younger, and then reallocating gradually toward more conservative assets as you get closer to retirement.

Each of the funds assumes a retirement age of 65, so try to select the appropriate fund based on when you plan to retire. All of Emory’s retirement plan vendors offer Lifecycle Investments; Fidelity (Freedom Funds), TIAA (Lifecycle Funds) and Vanguard (Target Retirement Funds). These funds are monitored by Emory and managed by the vendors. Contact your vendor(s) of choice for more information.

Core Investments streamline your fund choices across major asset classes, enabling you to make easier investment decisions. Selecting funds in the Core investment category enables you to select and combine investments to create a diversified retirement portfolio. These funds are monitored by Emory. Contact your vendor(s) of choice for more information.

Expanded Investments provide a greater choice and options across all major asset classes. Selecting funds in the Expanded Investment category enables you to create a portfolio that is tailored to your individual retirement goals. These funds are monitored by Emory. Contact your vendor(s) of choice for more information.

The Mutual Fund Brokerage Window gives you access to the world of mutual fund investments. The window provides the flexibility of a brokerage account, with the advantage of investing your retirement savings plan money through the Emory 403(b) Retirement Plan. This option provides more opportunity to create a retirement portfolio that matches your goals, time frame and risk tolerance. You also can monitor your portfolio and adjust it as your needs change.

Funds available through the Mutual Fund Brokerage Window are not selected or monitored by Emory in any way, and investments are made at your own risk. Contact your vendor(s) of choice to discuss which funds are available to you.


If you need help in selecting funds, refer to the Investment Performance Chart or visit your selected vendor(s) website for information on fund performance. The Investment Performance Chart is updated quarterly.

You can also schedule a Retirement Counseling Session with the vendor(s) of your choice.


For new hires or contributions after January 1, 2007:

  • Employee’s Contributions: Your contributions are always 100% vested.
  • Emory’s Basic Contribution and Emory’s Matching Contribution: Vesting is after completion of 3 years of service. Any matching or employer contributions made by Emory on behalf of an employee are vested once the employee completes 3 years of service, with completion of 1,000 hours worked in a 12-consecutive-month period (i.e. eligible employment) with Emory.
  • Post Doctoral fellows are 100% vested.

Prior to January 2007, employer contributions were on a 5-year vesting schedule. If you were hired prior to January 1, 2003, you are fully vested.

Accessing funds

If you need to take a distribution from your Plan while you are an Emory employee, there are several options available. An overview of these options is provided below. Refer to the Summary Plan Description for more complete details.

Enables you to withdraw your own contributions and any Emory matching funds which are vested to cover certain medical, educational, real estate or personal purchase items. Plan Loans are repayable through direct debit of your checking or savings account over the timeframe of the loan and do not require you to cease participating in the plan during the term of the loan. No penalties are incurred by participants accessing their money, unless, they default on the repayment of the loan in which case the remaining balance will be treated as a distribution subject to all IRS penalties and taxes. Once all forms are completed/submitted to the appropriate retirement plan vendor, this process typically takes ten (10) business days.

NOTE: Options are for Fidelity Investments and TIAA only. Loans are not available through Vanguard.

Enables you to withdraw your own contributions which are vested to cover certain medical, educational, home purchase or repair items. Hardship withdrawals cannot be repaid; are subject to IRS penalties for early withdrawal; and are taxable to the participant. Hardships require proof and documentation. Once all forms are completed/submitted to the appropriate retirement plan vendor, this process typically takes seven (7) business days.

Available to employees who have reached 59½ years of age. These are not subject to IRS penalties for early withdrawal; and, do not require you to cease participation in the plan. You are able to withdraw ONLY your own contributions to the plan. Withdrawals are taxable to the participant at the time they are received. In-Service Withdrawals must be taken before all Hardships. Once all forms are completed/submitted to the appropriate retirement plan vendor, this process typically takes seven (7) business days.