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Benefits News: Enhancements to the University Retirement Plans

Feb 25 2013

Columbia Benefits mailed and emailed the following letter to eligible faculty and staff on February 25, 2013.


  • Columbia University Retirement Plan for Officers
  • Columbia University Retirement Plan for Support Staff
  • Columbia University Retirement Plan for Supporting Staff Association
  • Columbia University Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan (VRSP)


Dear Colleagues,

This  letter and the linked documents describe two enhancements to the Columbia University Retirement Plans listed above. Depending on the plan(s) in which you participate and the funds in which you currently invest, these enhancements may not affect you. We are providing this information so all eligible participants are aware of what is changing, as well as to meet regulatory requirements.

We are also mailing this notice and the linked documents in hard copy to the home address you have provided to the University.

  1. Lower-cost TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds take effect April 2, 2013. To reduce the investment company fees and expenses that are charged to participants, Columbia will replace the current TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds - Retirement Share Class with the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds - Institutional Share Class.  If you are invested in TIAA-CREF's Lifecycle funds, the new, lower-cost options will help put more money toward your retirement savings goals.

    What this Change Means for You
    • If you currently invest in the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds - no action is required by you. Your fund balance and future contributions will be automatically directed to the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds - Institutional Share Class as of April 2, 2013. Note that each new fund has a different ticker symbol, as you will see on your next quarterly statement.

    • If you do not currently invest in the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds but would like more information about this investment option, go to www.tiaa-cref.org/columbia. Click on Plans & Investments and then select Investment Choices to view individual fund information.

  2. Existing Calvert investments will be added to TIAA-CREF's administration platform as of April 2, 2013. To streamline administration and make it easier for you to manage your retirement accounts, the Calvert investment options will be administered through TIAA-CREF starting in April.

    What this Change Means for You
    • If you currently invest with Calvert - no action is required by you. Your current investment elections will remain intact, and beginning April 5, 2013, Calvert will begin the process of transferring your account balances to TIAA-CREF for administrative purposes. The same Calvert investment options will continue to be available. However, instead of receiving a quarterly statement from Calvert and using the Calvert website to perform transactions, you will receive statements from TIAA-CREF and use the TIAA-CREF website to access your account and make transactions among Calvert funds.

      If you do not currently invest in TIAA-CREF investment options, you will receive a Welcome Kit from TIAA-CREF that will explain how to access your personal account.  This kit will be mailed to you on or about April 4, 2013.

      IMPORTANT:  During the changeover of Calvert fund administration, there will be a brief period when you will not be able to make certain transactions.  This is called a "blackout period." During the blackout period, from April 5 to April 15, 2013, you will not be able to:

      • Transfer Calvert Investment Fund account balances to other Calvert investment funds or to TIAA-CREF and Vanguard investment options
      • Take a withdrawal from your Calvert Investment Fund accounts
      • Request a final payout distribution from your Calvert Investment Fund accounts.

        Note that during the blackout period, contributions from your pay will continue to be withheld and invested according to your elections.  Calvert investments will remain fully invested during the blackout period and they will continue to experience investment gains and losses.

        You have until April 5, 2013, 4:00 p.m. (ET) to perform transactions on the Calvert website at www.calvert.com or by calling the Calvert Service Center at (800) 368-2745. After that, you will have to wait until after April 15, 2013, 9:00 a.m. (ET) to have access to your Calvert fund balances, via the TIAA-CREF website, www.tiaa-cref.org/columbia, and the TIAA-CREF Service Center at (800) 842-2252.
    • If you currently invest with TIAA-CREF, effective April 2, 2013, you will be able to invest in Calvert funds through TIAA-CREF.

    • If you currently invest with Vanguard - no action is required by you. You will continue to be offered the same investment options, which will be administered by Vanguard.

More Information

We've provided a link to download a list of the investment options available to you on the TIAA-CREF administration platform as of April 2, 2013, along with the new TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds. You will see the list contains all the same Calvert funds that are available today.  The list of investment options is available online at: http://hr.columbia.edu/RetPlanTIAA-InvestmentMenu2013.pdf.

We've also provided a link to a legally required notice about the blackout period during the administration changeover from Calvert to TIAA-CREF, as well as some additional information concerning this transition. The notice is available online at: http://hr.columbia.edu/RetPlanBlackoutNotice2013.pdf.

Keep in mind:

  • You can also access the Summary of Retirement Plan Services and Costs notice sent to you in 2012. It outlines the investment management fees associated with the funds offered by TIAA-CREF, Calvert and Vanguard, among other information. Visit: http://hr.columbia.edu/benefits/spds#ret.

  • If you have any questions about this mailing or other retirement plan matters, please call the Benefits Service Center at (212) 851-7000 and select the prompt for "Retirement."


Fiona McLennan
Assistant Vice President
Columbia University Benefits