Retirement Savings & Financial Planning


It's Never Too Early to Plan for Retirement

Retirement experts say that the average retiree will need to replace 70%-80% of their annual income in retirement. And while retirement may seem like a long way off, saving while you work is important for your long-term financial well-being.

Columbia University offers faculty and staff retirement plans to help you plan—and save—so you can have a financially secure retirement. Plans are designed to help you plan for your future and provide a foundation of retirement income that will be supplemented by your additional savings and investments as well as Social Security benefits. Retirement benefits may vary according to your employee population.

Student Workers

Voluntary Retirement Savings Program (VRSP)

The VRSP is a 403(b) retirement plan that lets you contribute from 1% to 80% of your eligible pay, on a pre-tax (deducted along with any other taxes) and/or Roth after-tax (deducted from take-home pay) basis, up to the annual IRS limit.

  • Eligibility begins on date of hire.
  • You are always 100% entitled to the value of your own contributions.
  • In 2019, the maximum contribution is $19,000 (plus $6,000 if you are age 50 and over, for a total of $25,000).
  • The IRS limit applies to combined contributions, pre-tax and Roth.
  • IRS limits may change for 2020.

You have a wide range of funds to choose from for investing your savings, available through TIAA and/or Vanguard.

Make Sure You Are Signed Up

Not sure if you are participating in the VRSP? The simplest way to check is to look at your payroll statement.

To enroll in the VRSP, log in to CUBES; select "Retirement" and follow the prompts. 

Your contributions

Pre-tax contributions to the VRSP are deducted from your paycheck with taxes withheld. 

Making pre-tax contributions allows you to defer paying taxes until you make a withdrawal from your retirement account. 

A Roth contribution is money that you contribute to your VRSP after taxes. Roth contributions are taxable like the rest of your current pay.

Because Roth contributions are deposited into a VRSP after taxes were deducted, withdrawals will be tax free, subject to certain rules. 


Benefits Service Center

Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm


The Vanguard Group

  • Telephone: 1-888-523-1188