Sustainable Benefit Changes Frequently Asked Questions
- When do the University's contributions to the retirement plan change and who does it affect?
- When am I vested in the University's contributions?
- Are other options being added to SU's retirement plans?
- What are the advantages to adding a Roth 403(b) feature to the existing retirement plan?
- Are there any limits to how much I may contribute to my designated Roth 403(b) account?
- What is a 457(b) plan?
- What does it mean to change from three-tiered contributions to four-tiered contributions?
- How much will my health care contributions increase in 2011?
- How will SU determine who qualifies as having a "lower household income?"
- What is SU doing to control the cost of our medical coverage?
- Are retiree health care contribution requirements changing?
- How will the health care reform bill that was signed into law in March 2010 affect our medical plans?
- When can I enroll my eligible opposite sex domestic partner in the University's health care plans, and when will such coverage commence?
- The Summary of Changes references health care credits for employees who cover a same-sex domestic partner. What are these health care credits?
- I currently have a dependent child enrolled at SU who is receiving benefits under the University's Dependent Tuition Benefits Policy. How will the changes to those benefits affect me?
- I have a child ready to start at SU in Fall 2010. Will I have to pay anything towards tuition if I receive the dependent tuition benefit?
- If my child receives a 100% waiver because he or she enrolls at SU before the changes take effect, how long will the 100% tuition waiver be in place?
- How much is the current tuition at SU?
- What if I need help to afford my share of the tuition cost?
- Are there any changes to Tuition Exchange or Cash Grant?
- Will spouses and same sex domestic partners of faculty and staff still be able to use remitted tuition for graduate studies?
- How will the change in remitted tuition affect the taxes I have to pay for using the benefit?
- Will spouses and same sex domestic partners of graduate assistants and Fellows be grandfathered so they can continue their studies without paying tuition?
- Why is SU allocating money for a University wellness program?
- When will the committee be appointed and who will be asked to join?
- What is the rationale for introducing funding for child care benefits?
- When will the committee be appointed and who will be asked to join?
The University's contribution to the retirement plan will change to 10% effective July 1, 2010. This new contribution percentage will apply to all participants with eligible earnings incurred on or after this date.
There has been no change to the retirement plan's vesting provision. All University contributions and voluntary employee salary deferrals are immediately vested.
Yes. The University will be introducing Roth 403(b) feature to the existing voluntary retirement plan. The University will also establish a new 457(b) plan. These options are being added effective January 1, 2011. The University will also be reviewing additional investment options.
With a Roth 403(b) option, participants can designate all, or a portion of, their future deferral contributions as "Roth contributions." Traditional 403(b) salary deferral contributions are made on a pre-tax basis and are generally not included in current taxable income. The pre-tax contributions and any earnings are subject to income taxes when withdrawn. In contrast, Roth 403(b) contributions are made on an after-tax basis and are included in current taxable income. The Roth 403(b) contributions and earnings are generally tax free when withdrawn as a qualified distribution. Including a Roth 403(b) feature does not affect those employees who wish to continue making traditional 403(b) salary deferral contributions on a pre-tax basis.
Yes, your designated Roth 403(b) contributions are aggregated with your traditional, pre-tax 403(b) contributions to determine whether your total annual elective deferrals comply with applicable legal limits. (Contributions that you make to other employer-sponsored retirement plans also affect the maximum amount that you may contribute to the University-sponsored plans.)
A 457(b) retirement plan is a non-qualified retirement plan available to employees who satisfy applicable legal and plan eligibility requirements. A 457(b) retirement plan enables employees to defer salary on a pre-tax basis in excess of the limits that apply to the 403(b) plan (currently $16,500 or more depending on age and service/contribution conditions).
Health Care Benefits
Currently SU offers medical plan contribution rates according to three possible family scenarios: Employee Only, Employee Plus One, and Family. Effective January 1, 2011, SU will switch to a four-tiered contribution schedule as shown below.
The four-tier structure enables SU to establish employee contributions that are consistent with the true costs of coverage by recognizing the higher average health care costs for adults and the lower costs for children. Please note that the recently enacted health care reform legislation could make it necessary to revise the contribution schedule in light of requirements to cover all dependent children to age 26. SU is analyzing the health care reform legislation and is awaiting further regulatory guidance on this important matter.
It is too early to know what the health care contributions will be for calendar year 2011 because they are based upon actual cost estimates from many providers, and these estimates are not available this far in advance. However, as a result of recent increases in health care costs and upcoming changes required by health care reform legislation, we are expecting some increase in health care premiums for 2011. Contribution rates will be finalized and communicated to employees in the fall.
The level of employee health care contributions will be determined based on an employee's total household income relative to family size. The details are still being finalized and will be communicated to you when they are determined.
The University continues to seek and evaluate any opportunities in its medical plans to improve benefits and control costs. For example, the new University wellness program will be designed to improve the health of our employees while reducing long-term health care increases. SU also recently joined a collaborative of 10 select research universities and contracted with a consultant who will help analyze the University's health care costs and services relative to national and regional markets. The objectives are to ensure that the University's medical coverage remains nationally competitive and cost effective, and that its employees are receiving quality medical care.
The sustainable benefit changes do not affect contributions for retirees age 65 or older or those who retired on or after January 1, 2006.
The sustainable benefit changes to health care contributions do apply to retirees who retired from SU prior to January 1, 2006 and their covered dependents if they or their dependents are under age 65, because contributions for these retirees and dependents have been consistent with employee contributions.
The University is currently analyzing the health care reform legislation and is awaiting guidance from the United States Departments of Labor (DOL), Treasury, and Health and Human Services (HHS) on a number of key provisions.
Preliminary reviews of the law indicate some significant changes that will have an impact on the SU medical plans. In 2011, the SU medical plan will offer coverage, in accordance with statutory guidelines, to adult children up to age 26 if they are not eligible for insurance through their own employer or their spouse's employer.
Effective January 1, 2011, over-the-counter drugs will require a prescription from your physician in order to be reimbursed through a health flexible spending account. Information about some of the other significant changes, including those effective in 2012 or later, will be incorporated into future benefit communications.
Domestic Partner Medical Benefits
Opposite sex domestic partner health care coverage will be available beginning January, 1, 2011, for those who meet the eligibility criteria. An employee wishing to enroll his or her opposite sex domestic partner effective January 1, 2011, must do so in the open enrollment offered this fall (October 25 - November 12, 2010). An employee who misses open enrollment must wait for the following year unless there is a qualified family status change (for example, if the partner loses his or her own health care coverage). Qualified family status changes must be completed within 31 days of the event with coverage going retroactive to the date of the event.
Under current federal and New York State tax law, the value of domestic partner coverage is includible in the employee's income unless the domestic partner is considered the tax-dependent of the employee under Internal Revenue Code rules. In addition, employee contributions towards domestic partner coverage may not be provided on a pre-tax basis if the domestic partner is not the employee's tax-dependent. Effective January 1, 2011, SU will provide a taxable health care credit up to $1,000 annually to an employee, graduate assistant or fellow who enrolls his or her eligible same-sex domestic partner in SU's medical plan. The health care credit is intended to assist those employees, graduate assistants and fellows who have no legal remedy available to eliminate the negative tax consequences of such coverage. The University will specify the requirements that will apply when determining the amount and timing of the credit.
Dependent Tuition Benefits
Employees' children who are enrolled at SU prior to the Fall 2011 semester who are receiving benefits under the Dependent Tuition Benefits Policy continue to be eligible for the same dependent benefits, provided all of the policy requirements continue to be satisfied. The sustainable benefit changes will have no impact on your child's benefit.
If your eligible dependent begins to use the dependent tuition benefit prior to the Fall 2011 semester, he or she will continue under the current terms of the Dependent Tuition Benefits Policy and will receive a 100% tuition waiver provided all of the policy requirements continue to be satisfied.
The 100% tuition waiver for your dependent will continue as long as he or she meets all of the requirements of the Dependent Tuition Benefits Policy.
The 2010-11 tuition at SU is $34,970. For illustration, ten percent of the current tuition is $3,497 while 5% is $1,749.
SU is committed to helping provide access to higher education for our employees and their families. It is this commitment that prompted the University to implement the dependent tuition waiver based on a sliding salary scale. Employees with salaries less than $50,000 are eligible for a 100% tuition waiver; employees with salaries of $50,000 or more but less than $100,000 are eligible for a 95% tuition waiver; and employees with salaries of $100,000 or more are eligible for a 90% tuition waiver. The salary thresholds described above are measured in FY 2011 and will increase in future years by the annual budgeted salary pro-forma increase.
The University also understands that families have varying needs, and these modest co-pays might still be financially onerous to some. Financial aid, which takes into account adjusted household income and family circumstances in awarding grant aid to help some applicants with particular burdens and responsibilities, may be available depending on determined need to cover a portion of tuition costs. In addition, the federal American Opportunity Tax Credit may offset a substantial amount (currently up to $2,500 per eligible student) of tuition costs for qualifying employees. You can find more information at: http://www.nasfaa.org/redesign/taxbenefitsguide.html.
Remitted Tuition Benefit
Yes, faculty and staff can still transfer their remitted tuition credits to their spouse or same-sex domestic partner for either undergraduate or graduate level courses as long as the requirements of the University's Remitted Tuition Policy have been satisfied. Effective with the Fall 2010 semester, eligible spouses and same-sex domestic partners will receive an 85% tuition waiver and be responsible for 15% of the tuition costs, which will be billed by the Bursar's Office.
If your eligible spouse or same-sex domestic partner is enrolled in courses that have a tax impact, the 15% of tuition costs that will be paid by you will be paid with after-tax dollars and will reduce the value of any remitted tuition benefits on which you will owe taxes.
No. This change will be effective for Fall semester 2010.
University Wellness Program
We believe that offering a wellness program will improve the overall health of the University community and lower our long-term health care costs. In addition, an effective wellness program can be a tool for recruitment and retention of faculty and staff.
A committee has been formed and includes among its members some of the many subject matter experts from the University community.
Child Care Initiative
The University is responding to the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce. Internal and external survey data point to child care as a concern among employees as well as graduate students. Peer institutions that have implemented child care programs report that it aids in recruitment as well as overall productivity and morale.
A committee is currently being formed and will include among its members some of the many subject matter experts from the University community.
Reports on the process are available on the HR Sustainable Benefits page under Links to Sustainable Benefits Communications. These messages from Chancellor Nancy Cantor detail the comprehensive review of the University's benefits, and highlight the campus-wide discussion that informed the final changes and enhancements.
The web pages summarize your Syracuse University benefit options. Every effort has been made to ensure this information is accurate. However, the benefits are governed by legal documents (which, in certain circumstances, may include insurance contracts). If there is any difference between the information on these web pages and the official documents, the official documents will control.
Eligible employees electing to participate in SU benefit plans, programs or policies are bound by the terms of the governing plan, program and policy documents. If you have any questions regarding the plans, programs or policies, you may request a copy of the governing document by contacting the HR Service Center at the number indicated at the end of this page.
As is the case with all benefits offered by SU, (1) the SU administrator of the applicable benefit plan, program or policy has the discretionary authority to interpret the terms of that plan, program or policy, and such interpretation will be binding on all interested parties to the fullest extent permitted by law, and (2) the University reserves the right to modify or terminate its benefit plans, programs and/or policies from time to time.