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Retirement Savings Options

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Contact Info

The Stanford Service Team

(650) 736-2985 or (877) 905-2985, Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm.

Salary-paid postdocs have two retirement investment options, the Tax-Deferred Account (TDA) and the Roth 403(b) After-Tax Retirement Savings Plan. You contribute pre-tax dollars to the TDA and after-tax dollars to the Roth IRA. Stanford does not provide matching contributions for anyone enrolled in the TDA or Roth IRA.

The Cardinal At Work site has information about the Roth IRA.

TDA contributions must come from the salary paid to you from Stanford University. You may not contribute from compensation paid as a stipend. You may contribute any amount up to an annual limit of $23,000 for the calendar year 2024. Higher limitations apply to participants who will be 50 years old or older 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 when administratively possible. You must submit changes by noon on the 10th or 25th of the month 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.
  • You invest your contributions among available investment options.
  • As a participant, you accept all investment risks.
  • Contributions and 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.
  • You may also transfer balances from other retirement plans to the TDA if you wish to consolidate any other accounts.
    • Review your paystub every pay period to confirm your elections are deducted from your wages. Deductions can stop due to, but not limited to, the following:
      • Out on leave, and you did not receive any Stanford salary during your time away
      • You missed a paycheck due to the untimely entry of your pay information by the department administrator
      • Your appointment was terminated, but you were rehired.
    • You will need to re-enroll in the TDA program for withdrawals to resume
    • Contact the Stanford Service Team immediately if you encounter an issue with deductions.

Enroll in the TDA Program

Before enrolling, you may wish to consider 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, 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’ websites or 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, and 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

As an active postdoctoral scholar having an existing TDA account with Stanford, you can review your current and future retirement savings options and 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

Stanford TDA and SCRP accounts are subject to administration and bookkeeping fees on the first business day of each quarter. These charges will appear on your quarterly statement under Fees.

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

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