Frequently Asked Questions

What are the faculty retirement eligibility requirements?

a) If you were hired on or before December 31, 2002, you are eligible to retire when you have attained age 55 and have at least 10 years of service provided you remain in a Benefits Eligible status. Should you become Non-Benefits Eligible after December 31, 2002, you will need to meet the retirement eligibility requirements stated below as letter "b".

b) If you were hired or rehired on or after January 1, 2003, you are eligible to retire when you have attained age 55, have at least 10 years of service, in a Benefits Eligible status, and at least 75 points, where points are defined as age + years of service ≥ 75. 

What are the retirement options available?

In order to enable faculty members to make an easy and orderly transition to retirement, the University offers the following retirement options:

1. General Retirement Plan and retirement bonus

2. Incentive Faculty Retirement Plans (new plan announced February 22, 2010)

  • Two versions: Version one can include a phased 1/2 time teaching opportunity for up to 3 years, or the faculty can retire at the end of the current term. Version 2 is a teach full-time until 70 for a bonus of one times your salary.

3. 3-Year Phased Retirement Plan

4. 2-Year Phased Retirement Plan

What happens to my benefits when I retire?

Information about various benefits is summarized in a printable PDF and in the Retiree Benefits section of our website. You can also meet with a member of the Benefits Team who you can contact at 8-3302 or by email at benefits@princeton.edu if you have any questions, or you can contact Associate Dean Sandy Johnson.

Will I receive Emeritus status when I retire?

It is customary to appoint tenured professors in good standing to the ranks of Professor or Associate Professor Emeritus when they retire. Upon their request, they may receive such University publications as the Princeton University Bulletin and the Princeton Alumni Weekly, as well as agendas and minutes of University Faculty Meetings. They may attend meetings of the University and departmental faculty upon invitation, but do not have votes at these meetings. Emeritus faculty members continue to receive University identification cards and to have use of the library, the athletic facilities and dining facilities on the same basis as active faculty members.

Faculty members also retain their University computing privileges when they are granted emeritus status. In particular, there is no change to their existing netID@princeton.edu email address upon becoming an emeritus faculty member.

Emeritus faculty members may be assigned office space as available and as needed, although they have lower priority than active members of the faculty and staff. Other facilities may be made available to them if the facilities are not needed by active faculty members and if it is possible to provide these facilities within the constraints of departmental budgets.

Emeritus faculty members do not have regular duties on a continuing basis. They may be appointed to teach on a part-time basis for one year at a time, with the approval of the Board of Trustees for each appointment. Their teaching duties normally amount to at most a single course during any academic year. These teaching appointments carry the additional title of Lecturer with the rank of Professor. Emeritus faculty members may carry to completion the supervision of those doctoral students whom they were advising before retirement, but are not expected to take on new graduate students after retirement.

Emeritus faculty members may have additional appointments as Senior Scholars if they are principal investigators on sponsored research projects. These appointments are expected to be at a small fraction of full-time duty and may involve nominal compensation through the research grant or contract. Emeritus faculty members may accept postdoctoral fellows and other researchers to work with them. Laboratory space will continue to be made available for them so long as their research continues to be supported by outside grants and so long as their laboratory space is not needed for active faculty or staff members. Adequate notice will be given to emeritus faculty members if it is necessary to reassign their laboratory space to active faculty members.

Should I request that I be appointed to the rank of Sr. Scholar after my retirement?

Emeritus Princeton faculty members may be appointed as Senior Scholar if they serve as principal investigators on sponsored research projects and/or maintain active research programs at the University. Senior (by discipline) normally have no specific responsibilities in teaching or research but are encouraged to participate in department, center and/or institute programs and to interact with faculty members, researchers, and students in informal settings.

On those occasions when a Senior (by discipline) is asked to provide a specific service to the University, arrangements must be made in advance through the Office of the Dean of the Faculty to compensate him/her appropriately. Such compensation will normally be provided through a research project grant (when the service involves participation in a sponsored research project). Senior (by discipline) are not eligible for stipend payments from the University. Appointments/reappointments to the rank of Senior (by discipline) are normally for renewable one year terms. Please contact Assistant Dean Lisa Scalice for more information on the Sr. Scholar rank.

Where may I obtain a copy of the retirement agreements?

I’m not sure I can afford to retire. Who can help me figure this out?

You should speak with representatives from TIAA-CREF and/or Vanguard who can provide you with customized illustrations of your retirement plan income. You also may want to talk with your personal financial planner or adviser.

If questions arise, please contact the following resources as a first avenue:

  • TIAA-CREF: contact the local TIAA-CREF Princeton Office at 1-800-842-8412 to speak or make an appointment with an individual counselor.
  • Vanguard: contact (800) 523-1188 to speak with a Vanguard Participant services associate, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

In addition, Ernst & Young will provide financial planning assistance in conjunction with their on-campus workshops. Contact Lynn Herbine in Human Resources for additional information.

Perhaps I should wait for a “better deal.” Will the University make further enhancements to the retirement plans?

Princeton’s Faculty Retirement Plans may be terminated or changed by the University at any time; however, there are no plans to add further enhancements beyond the plans currently available. Faculty members should not anticipate additional retirement incentives, particularly in light of current economic conditions.

Whom do I notify that I plan to retire?

Contact your department chair, the Dean of the Faculty, or Associate Dean Sandy Johnson. Participation in the Faculty Retirement Plan requires that you sign a retirement agreement and submit it to the dean of the faculty. To find out more about the retirement agreement form, contact Sandy Johnson. Sandy will prepare a retirement agreement for your signature.

With whom may I discuss my questions concerning retirement?

Contact Sandy Johnson to discuss the Faculty Retirement Plans. For questions related to medical insurance, pension benefits, or other benefits issues, contact Linda Nilsen, Assistant VP of Human Resources. For questions regarding continued research and teaching or office or laboratory facilities, contact your department chair or dean.

Must I sign a retirement agreement in order to qualify for retirement under the Faculty Retirement Plans?

Yes.

Can I change my mind once I have submitted a signed retirement agreement?

For the Incentive Plan: Faculty members have a seven (7)-day period to change their mind and revoke their agreement.

For other retirement plans (phased, enhanced phased, and general): Once signed, no changes are anticipated. Faculty can always retire earlier than indicated in thier signed retirement plan, but they cannot rescind the agreement once signed.

What arrangements can be made concerning office space?

We have left the provision of office space generally up to the department. Some departments have flexibility to provide office space while others have no flexibility whatsoever. There is a very small stock of centrally-allocated emeritus faculty office space monitored by the Office of the Provost. To request office space, contact Paul LaMarche, Vice Provost for Space Programming and Planning. The rule concerning office space is “use it or lose it.” Emeritus faculty members who are not utilizing their office space will see the space reassigned.

If I am in Princeton's rental housing, how long can I remain in University rental housing after retirement?

After your retirement, rental housing arrangements for emeritus faculty members are determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Dawn Gruver, Senior Manager for Faculty & Staff Housing, at (609) 258-2555 for additional information.

What happens to my research account under the retirement plans?

Faculty who retire under the incentive plan will continue to have access to remaining funds in their research accounts in support of ongoing academic activities. In addition, these accounts will be supplemented by a $5,000 grant at the time of transfer to emeritus status to ease this transition.

Do I have to retire at the end of an academic term or year?

Yes, because of the nature of faculty work at Princeton, you must retire at the end of the term or academic year, or during the summer. You may opt to retire at the end of one of the summer months (July 31 or August 31) to enable you to receive summer salary from your grants during the summer months. If you need assistance, you may contact Associate Dean Sandy Johnson.

Can I engage in teaching after my retirement?

Post-retirement teaching is determined by the department chair in consultation with the dean of the faculty based on departmental needs and constraints. Post-retirement teaching is limited to one course a year up to an overall maximum over the entire retirement of three courses. When an emeritus faculty member engages in post-retirement teaching, they are paid at the Lecturer with the rank of Professor rate and during the semester they teach they will hold the title of Lecturer with the rank of Professor in addition to their emeritus professor title.

Does Princeton provide any assistance with planning for retirement?

Princeton utilizes TIAA/CREF, Vanguard and Carebridge resources to provide assistance with retirement planning. Planning is best done early on—decades before retirement. If questions arise, please contact the following resources as a first avenue:

  • TIAA-CREF: contact the local TIAA-CREF Princeton Office at 1-800-842-8412 to speak or make an appointment with an individual counselor.
  • Vanguard: contact (800) 523-1188 to speak with a Vanguard Participant services associate, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. 
  • Carebridge: contact Carebridge at (800) 437-0911. A Carebridge representative is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ernst & Young planning workshops are offered through Human Resources. Signing up for a workshop entitles you to a month of financial advice--including retirement planning. Please contact Lynn Herbine in HR for information or schedules for when these workshops will be offered.

Will my children continue to receive Children’s Educational Assistance Plan Benefits if I retire?

The treatment of these benefits is no different whether you retire under the Incentive Retirement Plan or retire under any of the other plans available. A tuition grant will continue to be provided to a child who is participating in the program on your retirement date and continues to meet the eligibility requirements. Continuing eligibility for benefits will terminate if the child no longer meets the eligibility criteria. If your child is receiving educational assistance when you retire, this assistance will continue as long as your child remains continuously enrolled. If your child has not yet started the educational assistance plan when you retire, they are not eligible for the plan.

What is the Incentive Faculty Retirement Plan?

The Incentive Faculty Retirement Plan was rolled out in 2010 under the name "new plan." The plan is offered to retirement-eligible faculty members from the time they turn 65 through age 70 and offers a maximum incentive of 1.5 times salary payable in the next pay period after signing the retirement agreement. The incentive is age-based and declines by 0.25 AY salary each year from age 65 through age 69. Faculty members can retire at the end of the term or academic year in which they have signed the agreement. In addition, if a transition to retirement is desired, the plan allows faculty members to continue teaching on a ½ time basis for ½ pay for up to 3 years (6 terms), if they so choose. The ½ pay is set at either the faculty member’s own salary or at the average of all faculty at the same rank, whichever is higher.

As an alternative, the plan includes an incentive for those faculty who prefer to continue full-time teaching until retirement as late as age 70. A faculty member can qualify for an incentive equal to one year of salary at retirement by signing a retirement agreement before the end of the academic year in which he or she turns 67 and committing to transfer to emeritus status at a mutually agreed retirement date no later than the end of the academic year in which he or she turns 70. The incentive will be paid in the pay period immediately following the signing of the retirement agreement.

What retirement incentive is offered under the Incentive Plan?

The incentive is age-based and payable as a lump-sum in the pay period immediately following the signing of the retirement agreement.

The incentive is determined as follows: it is the following multiplier of AY salary based on the faculty member’s age attained when the agreement is signed multiplied by the faculty member's current year 10-month salary or the current year's average 10-month salary for all faculty members of the same rank:

 
Faculty member's age6566676869
Incentive as a multiple of salary1.51.251.00.750.5
 

In other words, the incentive is a multiple of the faculty member’s base academic salary. The FTE salary is set either through the usual process of annual review based upon the faculty members' salaries at the beginning of the period and without any penalty for serving reduced duty time, or alternatively will be the average salary of all professors of the same rank in the University, whichever is larger.

In addition, the faculty member will be eligible to continue teaching at half duty-time for half FTE salary (either their own salary or the average of rank, whichever is higher) for a number of years based on their current age according to the table:

 
Faculty member's age6566676869
Maximum academic years (semesters) of half-time teaching possible3 AY (6 semesters)3 AY (6 semesters)2 AY (4 semesters)2 AY (4 semesters)1 AY (2 semesters)
 

Who is eligible for the retirement incentives offered under the Incentive Retirement Plan?

Tenured faculty members who are at least 65 years of age and who have not passed their 70th birthday who meet the eligibility requirements for retirement are eligible for the incentives offered under the plan, provided they sign a retirement agreement and retire according to the schedule below:

 
Age when signing
Incentive
When incentive paidYears/semesters eligible to
teach
½ -time
                   651.5 x AY salaryPay period following signingUp to 3 years/6 semesters
                   661.25 x AY salaryPay period following signingUp to 3 years/6 semesters
                   671.0 x AY salaryPay period following signingUp to 2 years/4 semesters
                   680.75 x AY salaryPay period following signingUp to 2 years/4 semesters
                   690.5 x AY salaryPay period following signingUp to 1 year/2 semesters
Or, full time work until retirement:
Age when signingIncentiveWhen incentive paidOption
Between 65th birthday and 67th birthday1.0 x AY salaryPay period following signingWork full-time until retire before the end of the AY in which turn 70
 
When attain 70th birthday:No longer eligible for the plan
 

Faculty on long-term disability or who are not in good standing may not participate in the plan.

If I sign up for the Incentive Plan and elect to engage in the up to 3 years of 50% teaching at 50% pay, can I have a leave during the period where I am 50% duty-time?

In some cases. The leave would substitute for one year of 1/2x teaching.

If I elect the option where I sign before I turn 67 and will continue full-time teaching no later than the AY in which I turn 70, am I eligible for a sabbatical leave between when I sign the agreement and when I turn 70?

Yes. However, the allocation of leaves is not an entitlement. Sabbatical leaves are recommended by the department chair and approved by the dean of the faculty based on availability and scholarly productivity.

Are there any changes to the existing phased retirement plans since the addition of the Faculty Incentive Plan?

The existing plans will remain in place. However, we have made two changes to the existing phased retirement plans to make Princeton’s retirement offerings more consistent. These plans are available to all retirement-eligible faculty. The Basic Phased Retirement Plan will continue, however the maximum number of years that you can phase at 50% duty-time for 50% salary will be reduced from four years to three years. The Enhanced Phased Retirement Plan (50% duty-time teaching for 67% salary for up to two years with the provision that you must remain on campus for the full AY) is unchanged. The General Retirement Plan (which includes a bonus equal to the final year’s TIAA/CREF or Vanguard contributions for a year or more notice) remains unchanged.

Should I elect to participate in the Faculty Incentive Retirement Plan?

This is a voluntary program. There is no mandatory retirement age. We can provide you with information and answer your questions about the plan to enable you to make an informed decision, but it is completely your decision when you wish to sign a retirement agreement. The decision is entirely up to you.

How much advance notice must I give for the Incentive Plan?

The incentive plan provides an incentive for professorial ranked faculty who are between 65 and 70. Once age 70 is reached, the plan is no longer available.

You must sign up for the plan by the age brackets listed in the table to qualify. We hope, for planning purposes that you will sign up for the plan at least a semester before you begin the half-time work, however, that is not a requirement. You are free to sign up for the plan in advance of age 65, selecting a retirement date in the future.

Am I eligible for any incentives of the Incentive Plan if I commit to retiring after I turn 70?

No; however, you are still eligible to participate in the Basic and the Enhanced Phased Retirement Plan. These are the two phased plans that the University has offered since the 1990’s. They are not incentive plans and do not offer a bonus to retire. Rather, they are designed to provide for a transition into retirement.

If a faculty member retires under the Incentive Plan, are there any limitations on post-retirement teaching?

Post-retirement teaching is determined by the department chair in consultation with the dean of the faculty, based on departmental needs and constraints. Post-retirement teaching is normally limited to one course a year up to an overall maximum over the entire retirement of three courses. When an emeritus faculty member engages in post-retirement teaching, they are paid at the Lecturer with the rank of Professor rate and during the term they teach they will hold the title of Lecturer with the rank of Professor in addition to their emeritus professor title.

I am currently on a short-term disability leave of absence. Am I still eligible to participate in the Incentive Retirement Plan?

Eligible faculty members who are on a short-term disability leave of absence, or some other approved paid or unpaid leave of absence, other than long-term disability, are generally considered “active” employees. Active employees who meet the other eligibility criteria remain eligible. Inactive employees, such as those on long-term disability, are not eligible.

Should faculty members receive payments under Princeton’s Short-term Disability Plan after the last day of employment, the amount of the bonus will be reduced by the amount of the short-term disability payments received. This may affect the date the bonus payment is issued.

Can I be appointed as a Senior Scholar if I elect to take the Faculty Incentive Plan?

Yes. The Senior Scholar appointment is defined as follows (from Chapter III, Rules and Procedures of the Professional Researchers and Professional Specialists):

Emeritus Princeton faculty members may be appointed as Senior (by discipline) if they serve as principal investigators on sponsored research projects and/or maintain active research programs at the University.  Other distinguished retirees may be appointed to this rank on the recommendation of a department, center or institute and with the approval of the Committee on Appointments and Advancements for the Professional Researchers and Professional Specialists (C/7).

Senior (by discipline) normally have no specific responsibilities in teaching or research but are encouraged to participate in department, center and/or institute programs and to interact with faculty members, researchers, and students in informal settings. They ordinarily do not receive salaries from the University. However, on those occasions when a Senior (by discipline) is asked to provide a specific service to the University arrangements must be made in advance, through the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, to compensate him/her appropriately.  Such compensation will normally be provided through a research project grant (when the service involves participation in a sponsored research project) or a part-time teaching appointment (see Rules & Procedures of the Faculty of Princeton University). Senior (by discipline) are not eligible for stipend payments from the University.

Appointments/reappointments to the rank of Senior (by discipline) are normally for renewable one year terms. The appointments of emeritus Princeton University faculty may be renewed annually by the Dean of the Faculty on the recommendation of the sponsoring department.

For Departments: How will I know which faculty members are eligible to participate in the Incentive Plan?

All retirement-eligible faculty members aged 65 and above to less than 70. Once a faculty member turns 70, he or she is no longer eligible for the plan.

For Departments: How will departments benefit from the Incentive Retirement Plan?

The plan should provide a boost for faculty renewal. Departments will retain the position vacated by the retiring faculty member and can fill it at the assistant professor level. If retiring faculty members choose early retirement dates that are too early to easily be accommodated in departmental planning, the dean of the faculty will assist the department by allowing departments to hire visitors as needed during the transition.

When will I be eligible for Medicare?

Individuals become eligible for Medicare at age 65. You should contact Social Security to apply for Medicare benefits within three months prior to the month in which you turn age 65 to avoid a premium penalty. As Princeton’s retiree medical plans assume you are participating in both Parts A & B of Medicare, it is important that you sign up for Medicare when you are eligible.

When am I eligible for Social Security benefits?

Full Social Security benefits begin at different times, depending upon the year in which you were born. Contact your local Social Security office, visit the website at http://www.ssa.gov or review your annual Social Security Statement for more information.