Higher Education Plans Save More Than Corporate Counterparts

Participants of retirement plans with higher education institutions are saving more than their corporate counterparts, says a new report from Transamerica Retirement Solutions.

The report, “Retirement Plans for Institutions of Higher Education,” showed that higher education institutions outperform the corporate sector when it comes to faculty and staff deferral rates, and plan design practices that can generate successful retirement outcomes. Among those surveyed, the average deferral rate for faculty and staff was 13.4%.

An average of 41% of higher education institutions were found to offer automatic enrollment and over half (54%) applied a default contribution rate of 5% or more. The report also found that many such plans include features such as default contribution rates and automatic deferral increases, and that participants have access to more tools that help better prepare them for a secure retirement than their corporate counterparts.

“Higher education institutions have made significant changes and improvements to their retirement plans over the past five to 10 years,” said Danny Carr, vice president and national practice leader of Higher Education for Transamerica Retirement Solutions. “Through plan design features like automatic enrollment and automatic deferral increases, plan sponsors are able to positively drive better retirement savings outcomes for their faculty and staff.”

The report projects that higher education retirement savings plans will continue to evolve, and that by the end of this year, usage of automatic enrollment will increase to 57% and usage of automatic deferral increases will more than double to 17%.

The study was conducted during December 2012 and sampled 58 public and 32 private institutions, the majority of which are four-year colleges or universities (83%). Most of these institutions had fewer than 5,000 eligible employees. The sample is split almost evenly between those with a single provider (47) and those with multiple providers (43). Respondents have either sole decision-making (48%) or are members of a committee or board responsible for making retirement plan decisions. Of the 90 respondents, 38 partner with a retirement plan adviser or consultant.

A copy of the study can be requested by e-mail at marketinsights@transamerica.com.