Contact your human resources office.

Contact Information

Beneficiary Designations

Remember to review and update your beneficiary designations whenever there is a big life event to make sure that your benefits are paid according to your wishes. There are other benefit plans (non- life insurance) that have death benefits as well.

Click here for more information

Plan Summary

The UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program is a supplemental retirement savings program authorized by section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Through the TSA Program you can invest a portion of your income for retirement on either a pre-tax basis, an after-tax basis (Roth), or a combination of both. Participation in the UW TSA Plan is voluntary. You make the entire contribution; there is no employer match.

UW TSA 403(b) Program investment options include a wide array of mutual funds and fixed and variable annuities managed by five investment companies:

See the Quick Guide for company information, including contact information and website links.

The TSA program is administered by the UW System Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity.  The TSA Review Committee provides oversight of the program.


All University of Wisconsin employees, including rehired annuitants, student hourlies and graduate assistants — with the exception of some employees-in-training, fellows, and interns — are eligible to participate. Eligible employees can enroll at any time.


The UW TSA 403(b) Plan provides a low-cost way to save for retirement. All funds are no-load: there are no sales commissions or broker fees. There is no University fee. The UW TSA companies have no annual fees. Participants have access to funds with special low-cost share classes like Fidelity K Shares and  TIAA and T. Rowe Price Institutional share classes.


Contact your institution benefits office for questions regarding enrollment, limits or compliance.


Enrolling in the TSA Program is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3!

  1. Select one or more investment companies that can help you meet your future retirement needs with the flexibility you need to manage your account.
    • The Quick Guide provides a short description of each company and contact information.
    • The TSA Returns show the funds each company offers. (See the Investments & Returns tab for more information.)
    • The investment company web sites provide good information on investment basics.
  2. Sign up with your selected investment company(ies) either online, with the EZ Enrollment form or with a complete paper application. If you choose Lincoln or Ameriprise/RiverSource, you will work directly with an agent. To contact a Lincoln agent, call (608) 231-2231 or (800) 967-2046; for Ameriprise, call (888) 947-2872.
    • When you sign up, you will need to provide the company with information about yourself, your beneficiary(ies) and your investment choices.  (Please note that upon submission of an EZ Enrollment form your contributions will be invested in a target date retirement fund.  If you wish to contribute to any other investment options immediately upon your enrollment, please fill out a complete enrollment application.)
    • If you need help choosing your investments, call the company – See the TSA Investment Companies for contact information.
    • Individual counseling sessions, workshops, and webinars may be beneficial. See Education for more information.
  3. Fill out the Salary Reduction Agreement to indicate how much you want to contribute to your investment company(ies) every pay period. Submit the SRA to your institution’s benefits office.  (Please note that the Salary Reduction Agreement does not need to be completed if applying via the EZ Enrollment Form.)

IMPORTANT: Your investment company account must be set up before the company receives your first salary deferral.


Enrolling online is quick, convenient, and immediate! Use the links below to enroll with the company(ies) of your choice. Be sure you understand your investment choices before enrolling, and ask the company representative about anything you do not understand.

If you have questions, please contact your institution's benefits office.

Download the paper application for the company(ies) of your choice. Mail the completed application directly to the company address listed on the application. Please mail your application at least 14 days before submitting your Salary Reduction Agreement to your benefits office.

If you have questions, please contact your institution benefits office.

Download the paper EZ Enrollment Form for the company(ies) of your choice.  Complete and submit application to your institution benefits office.

If you have any questions, please contact your institution benefits office.


2016 & 2017 Minimum Contribution Limits

  • $8.00 per biweekly paycheck
  • $20.00 per monthly paycheck

2016 & 2017 Maximum Contribution Limits

  • If under age 50: $18,000
  • If age 50 or older at any time during the year: $24,000 (eligible for a $6,000 additional catch-up if you will be 50 or older at any time during the year)

Special 15-Year Rule Catch-up

You may contribute an additional $3,000 per year ($15,000 max over a minimum of five years) if:

  • You have 15 years or more of service with the UW; and
  • Your TSA contributions average less than $5,000 per year over the course of your UW employment.
  • By IRS rule, the $3,000 (per year) service catch-up is considered used prior to the ($6,000) age 50 and over catch-up.

Check with your institution benefits office to see if you qualify.

Contributions to Other Savings Plans

Contributions to a 457 deferred compensation plan do not affect your 403(b) limit. You may contribute the full amount to both types of plans.

You may also contribute the full amount to a personal IRA, either traditional or Roth.

402(g) Limit – Elective Deferrals

However, your UW TSA 403(b) contribution limit is reduced dollar for dollar by contributions you make to any of the following retirement savings plans: other 403(b), 401(k), SIMPLE IRA, SIMPLE 401(k), salary reduction SEP IRAs, and Federal Thrift Savings.

415(c) Limit – Annual Additions

Please note: If you own more than 50% of a business, retirement contributions made on your behalf by that business must be aggregated with your UW TSA 403(b) contributions and are limited by the 415(c) limit – $53,000 in 2016; $54,000 in 2017. Your 403(b) contributions made under the Age 50 catch-up are not included when calculating the 415(c) limit.

If you have questions, please contact the TSA Plan Administrator to be sure you have not exceeded IRS contribution limits.

Investments & Returns

The University strives to provide you with the best resources and programs to meet your individual investment needs. The UW TSA 403(b) Program offers five different investment companies and the ability to contribute on either a pre- or post-tax (Roth) basis. Three investment companies also provide low-cost share classes.

The fees and expenses of the investments you select have an impact on the overall returns of your investment portfolio, so the University reviews the investment options available to you, and works with our companies to make sure you have the lowest fees and expenses possible. None of the mutual funds in our plan have sales commissions or broker, marketing, or advertising fees.

Click on the headings below to learn more about the investment companies available, the differences between pre-tax and post-tax contributions, low-cost share classes, and investment returns.


The UW TSA 403(b) Program offers mutual funds and fixed and variable annuities managed by five authorized investment companies.

Mutual Fund Companies

TIAA is both an insurance company and a mutual fund company.

Insurance Companies – these companies use agents to help you

Frozen investment companies – these companies can no longer accept contributions

If you have questions about transferring to a current provider, contact OHRWD (

The TSA Program offers both pre-tax and post-tax (Roth) contributions:

  • Contributions deducted from your earnings on a pre-tax basis reduce your current taxable income. Both your contributions and your earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis. When you withdraw money from your account, it is taxed as regular income to you in the year you receive it.
  • Contributions deducted from your earnings on a post-tax (Roth) basis are included in taxable income in the year they are made, but the account balance and earnings are not taxed when you take the money out in retirement (subject to certain restrictions). Only TIAA, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, and Lincoln offer the Roth option.

Each investment company incurs operating expenses when it manages your investments. These expenses are taken out of the fund’s assets and affect the overall rate of return. The measure of what it costs an investment company to manage its funds is referred to as an expense ratio. Typically, the lower the expense ratio, the greater the rate of return to you – the investor.

TIAA, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price offer mutual funds with institutional (low-cost) share classes to UW TSA participants. Fidelity refers to these low-cost share classes as “K share” classes.  TIAA also offers the lowest-cost tier of annuity products in the UW TSA plan.  Due to the amount of money invested in these companies by UW employees, you qualify to purchase these low-cost shares and annuity products through the TSA 403(b) Program.

Funds with institutional class shares have the same management team and investment objectives as the funds in other share classes but the expense ratios are lower.  You cannot invest in low-cost share classes in your personal retirement investments outside of the UW TSA program. Access to low-cost funds provides a great advantage for UW TSA Program participants.

All the pre-diversified target retirement date funds - Fidelity Freedom Funds, TIAA Lifecycle Funds and T. Rowe Price Retirement Funds - are available as part of the lower-cost share class offering. The other TIAA, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price funds, including those being offered with the lower-cost share classes, are noted on the ”UW TSA Investment Returns” below.

The investment returns below provide a list of the investment products that are authorized for UW employees under the TSA program. Except as otherwise noted, the data contained in the reports have been provided by the investment companies based on 12/31/2016 information. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of these reports. The UW cannot guarantee complete accuracy and assumes no responsibility for the information supplied by the companies or financial losses incurred by employees participating in the TSA Program.

Except for fixed annuities, your TSA investments are not guaranteed. You could lose money. When selecting investments, consider spreading your money among different kinds of assets. Some funds such as target retirement date funds and asset allocation funds are already diversified. Remember, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Investment Returns (12/31/2016)

Selected Investment Returns is a partial list of the investment options available to you, sorted into the most important investment categories to help you choose funds for a diversified portfolio.


There are many tools to help you learn about investment choices and how to meet your savings goals, including counseling sessions and seminars with representatives of the investment companies, TSA Basics seminars and online webinars. Click on the options below to learn more.


Would you like to start investing or make some adjustments in your investments but aren't sure how? Are you worried about stock market volatility? Do you want to be sure your investments are well diversified? Several of our TSA investment company representatives are available for one-on-one counseling sessions. This is a free service our investment companies provide. The sessions tend to fill up fast, so don't put off calling. You must make an appointment with the individual company in advance. You can find company contact information on the Quick Guide.

See the TSA Company Schedule for dates, locations in your area, and contact information.

UW System Administration staff provides a seminar that helps you learn about the TSA 403(b) Program and the basics of investing. If you are in the Madison area and would like to attend, please see the UW-Madison OHRD Benefits Education website (click on TSA Basics) for dates and times and how to register.

This seminar is also available across UW System and is presented by UWSA staff or by members of the TSA Review Committee. See when this seminar will be presented at your institution.

Please contact Terry Lauber at or via phone at 608-262-1805 for more information about counseling sessions and seminars.

T. Rowe Price Offers Recorded Webinars

T. Rowe Price, one of the investment companies in your UW TSA 403(b) Program, offers webinars. Take advantage of these webinars! 

Another way to save: Roth contributions

For potential tax-free withdrawals in retirement, consider Roth contributions. View this 10-minute program to understand how Roth contributions can give you tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Find out about the advantages and disadvantages of Roth contributions, review a Roth contribution profile quiz, and learn about requirements for a qualified Roth distribution.

View this webinar.

Insight on Market Volatility

This investment panel event was conducted on October 22, 2015. Watch this one-hour recording to get professional insight on recent market volatility and what to expect next, how to help protect your portfolio over the long term, and the impact of an interest rate hike. 

View this presentation


Financial Information Websites

Providing these links is for information only and does not imply an endorsement of any products or services associated with the links. These sites will open in a new window.

Loans & Distribution

The IRS regulates and limits the access you have to your retirement savings. You may withdraw your contributions (take a distribution) only when you:

  • leave employment with the UW System,
  • reach age 59 ½ – even if you are still working, or
  • become disabled.

You can take a loan from your TSA account, but hardship withdrawals are not available.


If you need access to your money and you can’t or don’t want to take a distribution, you may be eligible to take a loan from your TSA account.

Loans are available from Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, TIAA, Ameriprise/RiverSource, and Lincoln.

To start the loan process, contact your TSA company. Each company has its own loan procedure. In the UW TSA Program, you may have up to two outstanding loans at any time, either both from the same company or one each from different companies.


Once you meet the eligibility criteria above, you may take a distribution from your TSA account. To access your money, contact your TSA company. Withdrawals from Fidelity and TIAA can be initiated over the phone; all other companies require you to fill out their form.

Please note: the signature from the Plan Administrator is NOT required for any of the current TSA companies. Just complete and sign the form and submit it to the company.

Only companies no longer active in our Program – Wells Fargo (Strong), Scudder (DWS), American United Life, and Security Benefit Life require the signature from the UW Plan Administrator.


The money you take out from your pre-tax TSA accounts is taxed as regular income to you in the year you receive it:

  • Withdrawals before age 59 ½ may result in tax penalties.
  • If you terminate UW employment at age 55 or older – even though you are not 59 ½ – you may take distributions from your UW TSA pre-tax accounts without being subject to the 10% tax penalty for early withdrawal.

Withdrawals from your Roth after-tax 403(b) account are tax-free as long as you meet the IRS restrictions:

  • You must have had the account open at least five years from your first Roth contribution, and
  • You must be at least 59 ½ years old.

Required Minimum Distributions

In most cases, you must begin receiving income from your TSA account by April 1 of the year after you turn 70 ½. If you neglect to take the distribution, you will incur a 50% tax penalty on the minimum amount you should have received. Your investment company will calculate your minimum required distribution upon request.

NOTE: If you are still working at the UW at age 70 ½, you do not need to take a distribution from your UW TSA until April 1 of the year following your termination of employment. (If you have accumulations from previous employers, you should begin taking distributions on those accounts by April 1 of the year after you turn 70 ½.)