Human Resources

Optional Retirement Plan FAQ

The Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) is an alternative retirement plan (a “defined contribution plan”) provided by a private carrier for academic and professional employees of Louisiana colleges and universities.

WHY IS THIS A CALLED A “Defined Contribution Plan”?

ORP is a “defined contribution plan” to which you, as an employee, and GSU make contributions to be invested in a retirement annuity contract in your name.  ORP benefits are paid in the form of a lifetime income and, except for death benefits; single-sum payments (lump sum) are not permitted.


The Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana administers the plan.  ORPs, which were first offered in 1990, are offered by:

Who is eligible for membership?

You are eligible for membership if you are a new academic or unclassified staff member or a current staff member with less than five years of service credit to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (with a few exceptions).  Academic employees include all faculty ranks (instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and librarian).  Unclassified and other academic employees include administrative officers, unclassified staff, teaching associates, research associates, library associates, and coordinators.  If you are a nonresident alien with a J or F visa, you are not eligible for membership in a retirement plan.

If I decide to participate in ORP, may I later change to another plan?

No.  The decision to participate in ORP is irrevocable.  You may not enroll in ORP and then later change to the TRSL defined benefit plan.  You may elect to change ORP carrier in November of each year for an effective date of the following January.

What investment options do I have?

There are many investment options in ORP.  Each option has varying degrees of financial risk and rates of return.  You may contact the ORP representative for information concerning options.

What is my contribution to the plan?

Your employee contribution is 8 percent of gross salary and is tax-sheltered.  TRSL charges you 0.1 percent to administer the funds.  GSU pays an employer contribution.  The contribution rate is subject to change each July 1st.

If I terminate employment before retirement, can I receive a lump-sum refund?

State law does not permit a lump sum refund at termination.  At termination of employment, you retain ownership of your account.  You may elect to receive a monthly benefit based on the value of your account.

Should I designate a beneficiary?

Yes, it is important to designate a person to receive benefits in the event of your death prior to retirement.

How long must I participate to be vested?

Your ORP account is immediately vested.

If I participate in ORP, do I also contribute to social security?

No, if you contribute to ORP, you do not participate in Social Security; however, if you were hired after April 1, 1986, you must pay the Medicare portion of the FICA tax (1.45 percent of your salary.)

When may I retire?

As an ORP participant, you are eligible to annualize your ORP account at termination of employment. In order to be eligible to continue group insurance policies after retirement, you, as an ORP retiree, must have the same required years of service as the TRSL retiree.  *Refer to TRSL

What if I become disabled?

If you become disabled, you must have at least five years of service to apply for disability retirement on the ORP.  GSU will require a medical examination by an independent physician.  The physician must certify that you are mentally or physically incapacitated for further performance of the duties currently being performed, that the incapacity is likely to be total and permanent, and that you should be retired. 

If approved, you may continue participation in the insurance plans in effect at the time of your retirement on the ORP.

If I die, what benefits are available to my survivors?

Your survivors may choose a lump-sum refund or elect to receive a monthly benefit based on the value of your account.