Application deadline approaches for retirement incentive program

With less than four weeks remaining in a seven-month application window, 247 employees are approved to participate in the university's 2020-21 retirement incentive option (RIO). Another 36 applications are pending and 19 applications were either withdrawn, denied or ineligible, according to Bonnie Whalen, associate vice president for institutional financial strategy.

The university isn't planning to offer another retirement program this year or change the incentives in the current one, she said.

Approved in July by the state Board of Regents, Iowa State's RIO is one piece of a broader university plan to address a $41 million budget deficit this fiscal year due to a smaller student body, flat tuition rates and less state operating support.

Eligible employees may apply to the program through March 1, and approved participants need to retire from Iowa State by June 30. A link to the RIO interest form is available on the program website. Whalen said the current participation level will save the university an estimated $9.5 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Who's eligible?

The RIO is open to benefits-eligible employees who meet a rule of 70 (age and continuous length of university service) and are at least 60 years old on their retirement date. Employees are not eligible if they were accepted previously for another ISU retirement program, such as phased retirement. Participants choose from three incentives:

  • Two years of monthly employer's retirement contributions, plus health and dental coverage* (employer and employee costs) up to the self and spouse/partner level
  • Three years of retirement contributions
  • Three years of health and dental coverage*

*Requires five years of continuous participation in ISU medical/dental plans prior to retirement

When it was announced last summer, university leaders noted that eligibility doesn't guarantee approval to participate in the program. Division leaders, who make the final decisions, must look for cost savings as they review requests.

Where to get answers

For questions about:


Your participation in the RIO

Your manager

Health and dental Insurance in retirement

Benefits office: 515-294-4800 or

Retirement plan limitations, impacts to payroll and associated deductions and taxes

Payroll, benefits and tax: 515-294-7662 or

Retirement planning and investment options (for TIAA participants)

Ames TIAA office: 800-732-8353

Retirement planning and investment options (for IPERS participants)

IPERS: 800-622-3849 or

Preparing for retirement

Benefits director Ed Holland encourages employees participating in the RIO -- and those who still are thinking about applying -- to contact the benefits office, 294-4800, to discuss their benefit options in retirement.

In addition, university human resources is offering its Ready, Set Retire! workshop Feb. 4-5 via Zoom. Designed for employees who are nearing retirement, it features presentations by ISU benefits professionals and subject-matter experts from several retirement-related programs. Employees -- and their spouses -- may join the sessions that are relevant to their situation.

  • Thursday, Feb. 4 (2 sessions): Medicare, Social Security and resources from SHIIP (the state's Senior Health Insurance Information Program); ISU medical/dental insurance for retirees and voluntary retirement savings
  • Friday, Feb. 5 (3 sessions): IPERS, TIAA retirement income options and emotional aspects of retirement (with Employee and Family Resources)


Related stories