Retirement Savings Plans Transition to TIAA

Penn's retirement savings plans have transitioned to TIAA.

On April 15, the University of Pennsylvania’s retirement savings plans completed a major change. The Plans’ fund menu has changed, and TIAA is the plans' only recordkeeper. Vanguard funds are still offered in the Plans’ fund menu, but are hosted by TIAA.

Please see the transition guide, Changes Are Coming to Penn’s Retirement Savings Plans, for more information, including the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on pages 21-22.

Make your investment and beneficiary elections for the new lineup at TIAA

Investment elections and beneficiary designations from the previous fund menu did not transfer automatically to your new account at TIAA. If you didn't choose your investments and designate your beneficiary(ies) before the transition to the new fund menu, you can now do so at

For investment selection instructions, download this step-by-step guide. For beneficiary designation instructions, download this guide.

See the Quick Links guides for more information.

For UPHS employees: For questions about the UPHS transition to Fidelity, please go to

UPHS' (the hospital) transition to Fidelity doesn't have any connection with Penn's (the school) transition to TIAA. 

Learn More at TIAA’s Transition Webinars 

Previous webinars (click the title to view)
How to Turn Your Retirement Savings Into a “Paycheck” for Life
A custom presentation tailored to Penn with annuities expert Benny Goodman; he’ll provide easy-to-understand, real-life interpretations of how an annuity works and pays out – and compare annuities to other products to highlight similarities and differences.
“Lifetime income” explained
Learn more about how to use the annuity options in the updated Penn Retirement Savings Plans to help build a guaranteed stream of lifetime income. Benny Goodman, TIAA’s VP of annuities, will discuss how you can develop an income plan that can help protect you from outliving your savings.
Explore the updated Penn Retirement Savings Plans
Learn how to make the most of your Penn Retirement Savings Plans. The transition to TIAA is complete. All of the Plans’ balances at Vanguard have moved to TIAA and are visible in your online account. A TIAA financial consultant will provide an overview of what is new and how you can access tools & resources online and with help from TIAA.  


Why did the University of Pennsylvania make these changes?

Over the past several years, the technology platforms used by 403(b) retirement plan providers have improved so that plans like Penn’s no longer need to have multiple vendors in order to make multiple fund families available to plan participants. This enables retirement plan recordkeepers to host other investment companies’ funds on their platform. For example, TIAA could host a Vanguard fund. This change enables a plan like Penn’s to move to a single recordkeeper. 

The single recordkeeper is TIAA. Vanguard has funds on the TIAA platform, but is no longer be a recordkeeper for Penn’s retirement savings plans.

Moving to a single recordkeeper reduces the administrative complexity and management costs to operate Penn’s retirement plans.

The new streamlined investment menu is intended to reduce complexity when developing your individual retirement investment strategy. Also, consolidating funds into fewer options can result in improved share classes and overall lower investment expenses. Lower costs mean that more of your savings can work for you.

During the past four years, there have been several class-action law suits brought against retirement plans like Penn’s with multiple recordkeepers.  The focus of the litigation has generally been on the responsibility to act in the best interest of the plan participants by keeping recordkeeping fees low. Many of our peers have already taken this step and have experienced a reduction in overall plan fees.

What did not change?

  • Penn’s employer contribution levels
  • eligibility and vesting requirements
  • contribution types (pretax and Roth)
  • voluntary employee contribution levels
  • loan, withdrawal, and distribution availability
  • Penn’s commitment to help you plan and save for retirement

How does this impact me?

All plan participants, regardless of which provider they use today, are impacted. All participants had a new account established at TIAA by February 16, 2021. The fund menu was reduced to a carefully selected group of Vanguard and BlackRock mutual funds, as well as TIAA annuities. You can let your current retirement savings and future contribution go the Plans’ pre-chosen investment (the age-based Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement Fund), or you can select investments from the new fund menu.

Does this change apply to retirees and former employees who still have money in Penn's retirement plans?

Yes, this transition applies to all participant accounts in Penn's retirement plans at TIAA and Vanguard, regardless of whether the participant is an active employee, retiree, or former employee.

How do I access my new account on the TIAA platform?

Active employees: You can access your new account at TIAA by clicking on Log In and entering your user ID and password.

Former employees: If you have already registered for online access to TIAA, log in as usual at  If you haven't registered for online access to TIAA, go to, click New User Access, select Next under Register For Online Access, and follow the prompts. 

I registered for my new account. What actions should I take next? 

Many funds that were offered in the previous core menu are not in the new core menu. Selecting new funds will impact the way your current funds will be allocated to your account(s), as well as your contributions. You can visit and search by the ticker symbol or name of the individual investments for additional information.

What is different about the Retirement Choice and Retirement Choice Plus accounts?

For all active employees who are still contributing the new contracts at TIAA are Retirement Choice or “RC” or Retirement Choice Plus “RCP” accounts. And there is one for the Basic Plan, one for the Matching plan, and one for the Supplemental Plan.

Retirees with a mutual fund balance (both TIAA and Vanguard) will also have the new contracts. Retirees with a balance in TIAA and CREF annuities only will not be issued new contracts in addition to their legacy contracts. All TIAA and CREF annuity balances will remain in the legacy contracts.

The new contract are explained on pages 6-8 of the January guide, but these are really just new labels to distinguish the new accounts from the legacy accounts. Below is a typical example of how the legacy accounts and new accounts will display.  In this example there are three legacy accounts at TIAA, and three new accounts. Participants will need to add the beneficiary to the new accounts; existing beneficiary designations remain in place for the legacy accounts. 

Supplemental Retirement Annuity Plan of The University of Penn
                 GSRA    Beneficiary info will display (this is the legacy account) 
                 RCP      Beneficiary info won't display (this is the new account)
University of Pennsylvania Matching Plan 
                  GRA   Beneficiary info will display (this is the legacy account)
                   RC     Beneficiary info won't display (this is the new account)
University of Pennsylvania Basic Plan  
                  GRA   Beneficiary info will display (this is the legacy account)
                   RC     Beneficiary info won't display (this is the new account)

The new RC/RCP contracts can help the University more effectively manage the Plans, by monitoring investment options and expenses, adding and/or removing investment options, and transferring Plan account balances to alternate investment options in the Plans.

What happened if I did nothing?

All contribution elections and mutual fund balances transferred to your new account(s) at TIAA and will be directed to the Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement Fund closest to the year you turn 65 (see page 12 of the Changes Are Coming guide for the specific Target Retirement Fund that applies to you). All annuity balances remain in your existing legacy contracts.

What if I need help selecting investment options?

Help is available.  You can meet one-on-one with a TIAA financial consultant to build a personal plan for your future. Visit, or call 800-732-8353 Monday-Friday 8am-8pm ET, to schedule a session to meet virtually or by phone. Counseling sessions are available to you as a participant of the Plan at no additional cost. You can also view the webinars listed above.

Are TIAA advisors limited in the advice they can give for Vanguard funds?

TIAA financial consultants cannot give specific advice regarding funds available in the brokerage window, but can give advice regarding the funds in the core lineup.

Participants fully invested at Vanguard who are retired or separated from service will not be able to get advice until after the blackout period ends. Once their transferred balances are in their new accounts at TIAA, participants can receive a proposed recommendation through Morningstar, which will use the many Vanguard funds in the core lineup.

What happened to my beneficiary designations?

For regulatory reasons, existing beneficiary designations on file at Vanguard could not be transferred to the new TIAA contracts. For TIAA participants, existing beneficiary designations on file at TIAA did not transfer over to your new mutual fund contracts, but remain in effect for your legacy annuity balances. You can log in to your new account at TIAA and update your beneficiary information to ensure your designations reflect your current intentions.

Unless you made your post-transition beneficiary designations by March 30, 2021, you beneficiary designations for your new contract(s) defaulted according to plan rules: for married participants, 50% to Spouse and 50% to Estate; for unmarried participants, 100% to Estate. If you need to designate different beneficiaries, you can log in to your account at TIAA and make your designations across all of your accounts. From the top navigation, select Actions, then Add/Edit Beneficiaries, and follow the prompts.  If you need any assistance, please call the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-736-6738.

Where can I get help if I'm unsure about navigating the website for selecting my investments and designating my beneficiaries?

In the Quick Links section at the upper-right of this webpage, you'll find a "Step-by-Step Enrollment Guide" and a "Step-by-Step Beneficiary Guide."  You can also get help by calling the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-736-6738.

Why are beneficiaries not transferring? 

Beneficiary designations are specific to each financial service provider and to each type of contract.  Therefore, new beneficiary designations must be made for the new accounts.

How do we get documents notarized when access to notaries is limited?

If you wish to designate more than 50% of your Penn retirement account to a beneficiary(ies) other than your spouse, a  notarized spousal waiver is required. If you cannot find an open notary, or are concerned about the health risk of going to a notary in person, one option is the online notary service with which TIAA has partnered. You can read more about this online notary service at

What happens if I have an outstanding loan?

If you had an outstanding loan at the time of the transition, there was no interruption to your repayment schedule, and the terms of your loan continued as issued. See page 19 of the Changes Are Coming guide for more information.

What happens if I have a self-directed brokerage account?

If you have a self-directed brokerage account, you should have received a separate communication with the details of your brokerage account transfer. If you were invested in the self-directed brokerage account option at Vanguard at the time of transition, a new brokerage account was automatically set up for you at TIAA, and your balances transferred “in kind” (if available). See pages 16-17 of the Changes Are Coming guide for more information.

Why am I receiving so many guides in the mail?

ERISA and securities law requires notices for blackout periods and account openings. This, combined with the fact that the University offers three separate retirement plans, means that a notices must be mailed for each applicable event under each plan. ERISA and securities laws does not allow for one notice that addresses multiple events or plans. 

If you prefer not to receive so many hardcopy notices in the mail, you can log into your account at TIAA and change your preference to e-delivery.

What should I expect from a counseling session?

A TIAA financial consultant will thoroughly review your account and help you develop an action plan for moving forward. One-on-one virtual counseling sessions last approximately one hour. Have available all of your investment account statements, including any from outside of the retirement plans, and your most recent Social Security statement, if possible.

Can I bring my spouse/partner/friend to my counseling session?

Yes, you can bring any one who you would like to attend your counseling session.

Where can I review the new investment lineup?

You can review the new investment lineup in the Changes Are Coming guide, pages 12-17. The discontinued investment options are listed on page 23.

Have other universities made a similar change to their retirement plans?

Yes, several other large universities have already migrated to a single recordkeeper, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, NYU, MIT, and University of Chicago.

Did this transition affect any investments I have at TIAA or Vanguard outside of Penn's plans?

No. This transition affected Penn's retirement plans only.