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Tax-Deferred Account

Salaried paid postdoctoral scholars, regardless of the percentage of your appointment, are eligible to contribute “salary” on a before-tax basis to the Stanford University Contributory Retirement in the Tax-Deferred Account (TDA) Plan. No matching contributions are made on behalf of Stanford for anyone enrolled in the TDA.

You are able to contribute to the TDA only from income that you receive from the University as salary, NOT as stipend.  You may contribute any amount up to an annual limit of $19,500 for the calendar year 2019.  Higher limits apply to participants who will be 50 years old or oler before the end of a calendar year.  If you are not sure if your income is salary, stipend, or a combination of the two, you should consult with your Department Administrator or Payroll.

A TDA is a defined contribution retirement plan in which you elect to contribute a percentage of your salary on a before-tax basis and invest it in one or more of the available investment options.

You may change your TDA payroll deduction election every pay period if you wish, when administratively possible, but changes need to be made by Noon on the 10th or the 25th (or the preceding business day if 10th or 25th is a holiday or weekend) to be effective in your next paycheck.


How the TDA works

  • You must wait until you’ve received one salary paycheck before enrolling in the TDA via the Stanford Retirement Manager.
  • You elect to contribute a percentage of your regular salary to the TDA on a before-tax basis. Before-tax contributions are not treated as taxable income, so the Federal and State withholding on your paycheck is reduced, as well as the taxable income reported on your annual W-2.
  • You invest your contributions among available investment options.
  • As a participant, you accept all investment risk.
  • Contributions and any investment earnings are sheltered from taxes until you take a distribution from the plan.
  • You may take a loan from your TDA account balance, up to certain limits, while you are a Stanford University postdoctoral scholar.
  • You may take a distribution from your TDA account when your postdoctoral scholar assignment at Stanford ends, or when you reach age 59-1/2. Generally, lump sum distributions taken from retirement plans before age 59 -1/2 and received directly by participants, as opposed to being rolled over directly to another eligible retirement plan, are subject to early withdrawal penalties.
  • Balances from certain other retirement plans may also be transferred to the TDA if you wish to consolidate any other accounts.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Review your paystub every pay period to confirm your elections are appropriately deducted. If you encounter an issue with deductions not occurring, contact the Stanford Service Team immediately.

Enroll in the TDA Program

Before enrolling, you may wish to have in mind the percentage of your eligible salary you will contribute and the investment options you will choose. You may change these elections at any time. To decide how much you should contribute to the TDA, first consider your personal financial goals. If you need help, investment advice and counseling services are available. You can use the financial planning tools on the investment companies’ web sites or you can call to schedule an individual counseling session with a representative from Vanguard at 1-800-662-0106 ext. 14500 or TIAA-CREF at 1-800-842-2007. The Stanford Retirement Manager website has information on deciding your contribution percentages, contribution limits, investment options, and a link to an enrollment guide to assist you with your enrollment. You may also call 1-888-793-8733 and a Fidelity Retirement Services Specialist will help you enroll.

Log in to the Retirement Savings site


Individual Financial Counseling Appointments

If you are an active postdoctoral scholar and have an existing TDA account with Stanford, you can review your current and future retirement savings options, schedule an appointment with a representative from one of the plan’s financial institutions. They can offer guidance on the best strategy to meet your retirement goals through Stanford’s retirement savings plans.

To schedule an appointment

Contact the investment organization you would like to talk to:

TIAA-CREF Appointments
(800) 842-2007

Vanguard Appointments
(800) 662-0106 x14500

Fidelity Appointments
(800) 642-7131


Quarterly Participant Fees

Administration and bookeeping fees apply to all Stanford TDA and SCRP accounts. These fees are deducted from your account on the first business day of each quarter and appears on your quarterly statement under fees.

Please review Fidelity NetBenefits web site for additional information and the latest fee information.

The Stanford Contributory Retirement Plan Summary Plan Description (SCRP SPD) Booklet