403(b) Retirement Plan

Updated in December 2018

403(b) Retirement Plan

The 403(b) plan is a “defined contribution” plan (like 401(k)) that provides you the opportunity to invest for the future through payroll deduction contributions. Your contributions are voluntary, and are invested in accounts approved by the college and administered by Transamerica Retirement Solutions. (Contributions to TIAA-CREF ended December 31, 2011.)

You may make your payroll deduction contributions either pre-tax or after-tax (Roth).

Contribution Limits

Each year, federal law limits the dollar amount that you may contribute.

Calendar Year Under Age 50 Age 50 or Older
2018 $18,500 $24,500
2019 $19,000 $25,000

Lower limits may apply if you contribute to certain other, non-Berklee retirement plans. Consult your tax advisor or the Office of Human Resources. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the total of your Berklee and non-Berklee retirement contributions do not exceed legal limits.

Berklee Matching Contributions

Berklee will match a portion of your contributions.

Who Hired 2011 or Earlier Hired 2012 or Later
  • Full-time faculty* and staff
  • Part-time staff eligible for Berklee Medical Insurance
dollar-for-dollar up to 3 percent dollar-for-dollar up to 6 percent
  • Part-time faculty eligible for Berklee medical insurance
50 percent of your contributions. Maximum match equals 5 percent

Berklee Basic Contributions

Hired January 1, 2012 or later: Full-time facultyand staff, certain part-time staff
The college makes an automatic 3 percent contribution to the 403(b) Plan on your behalf, even if you do not make voluntary contributions.

Special rules apply for certain faculty who converted from part-time to full-time between 2012 and 2016.

Pre-Tax versus Roth IRA Post-Tax Contributions

You may contribute using either the pre-tax or Roth IRA post-tax method. You may change your contribution method at any time. 


Both your contributions and any Berklee matching contributions are sheltered from federal and Massachusetts income taxes, thereby decreasing your current income tax liability. These contributions and their associated investment earnings, if any, are generally taxed when you withdraw them. See Retirement Plans Loans, Withdrawals, and Transfers for more information.

Roth IRA Post-Tax

Your contributions are not sheltered from federal and Massachusetts income taxes. Therefore, your contributions do not decrease your current income tax liability. However, if you make a "qualified" withdrawal, withdrawn contributions and their associated investment earnings, if any, are not taxed. Any Berklee matching contributions are treated as pre-tax contributions. Therefore, these contributions and their associated investment earnings, if any, are generally taxed when you withdraw them. See Retirement Plans Loans, Withdrawals, and Transfers for more information.

Vesting (Ownership of Contribution)

Vesting refers to your degree of ownership of contributions.

Matching Contribution

You are immediately 100 percent vested in Berklee's matching contributions.

3 Percent Basic Contributions

You are partially vested in these contributions after three years and fully vested after six years.

Your Contributions

You are always 100 percent vested in your own contributions.

Investment Options

You choose how contributions are invested among Berklee-approved investment options administered by Transamerica Retirement Solutions (800-755-5801)

If you participated in the plan before 2012, you may have a pre-existing account balance at TIAA-CREF (800-842-2776). Since January 2012, all new contributions have been allocated to investments options at Transamerica.

Assistance Choosing Investment Options

Contact the following for free education and information to help you make investment decisions:

Enrolling and Making Changes to Investments or the Amount of Your Contributions

You may start, stop, or change the amount of your contributions at any time using either of these methods:

  • Log into your account at trsretire.com. Read instructions for new users.
  • Call Transamerica at the number above to speak with a customer service representative between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday–Friday.

You may also change how your money is invested in the plan at any time. For assistance, contact Transamerica or TIAA-CREF.

You may transfer part or all of your account at TIAA-CREF to Transamerica at any time. For assistance, contact a Transamerica transfer specialist at 800-275-8714.

Read more about Retirement Plans Loans, Withdrawals, and Transfers.

Additional Information

Generally, the aggregate of your own contributions to Berklee's 403(b) plan plus your voluntary, pre-tax contributions to other employers' 403(b), 401(k), or similar plans may not exceed the maximum employee contribution outlined at the top of this page. Additional limitations may apply if you contribute to certain self-employed retirement plans such as SEP-IRAs and some Keogh or HR-10 plans.

If you contribute both to Berklee's 403(b) and any other employer-sponsored retirement plan (including self-employed plans), we strongly encourage you to seek tax advice to ensure that you comply with the IRS-mandated contribution limits. Compliance with contribution limits is your responsibility. Contact the Office of Human Resources for more information.

Are your beneficiary designations up to date?

No one wants to think about what will happen to their retirement savings after they die. But if you don’t take a few minutes to name your beneficiaries, your loved ones could face an extra burden down the road.

Be sure to complete the 403(b) beneficiary form in directly in your retirement account through Transamerica or TIAA.