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A variety of benefits are available to permanent employees who contribute to the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System or the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP).

  • Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System
  • Unreduced retirement benefit with 30 years of service, age 60 with 25 years of service, age 65 with 5 years of service
  • Reduced retirement benefits at age 50 with at least 20 years of service, age 60 with a least 5 years of service
  • Death benefit after one year of membership service is equivalent to one year of salary, not less than $25,000, or more than $50,000
  • Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) - SHRA staff, SAAO's and EHRA Faculty may choose to contribute to the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) instead of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement Fund

The University of North Carolina Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is an option or alternative to the North Carolina Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) for faculty and staff. Under the ORP, you control your investment choices, distribution methods, and retirement goals, whereas the State controls the investments under TSERS.

The University has authorized two companies to offer investment products under the ORP: Fidelity Investments and TIAA. For more information about the authorized companies or their products, including investment options, services and fees, you should review the information on this website, as well as contact a company representative.

Saving outside of your pension in one of the NC supplemental plans is an important step in being "retirement ready" - meaning you can replace at least 80% of your pre-retirement income.   The NC 401(k) and NC 457 Plans and the NC 403(b) Program offer you a wide variety of tools designed to help you create a more secure retirement. Make the most of your Plan benefits.

For more information, please visit

Deborah Rapetski
(828) 230-3655


  • Earning from 94 to 206 hours per year, based on service; pro rata basis for part-time employees
  • May be used for vacation, religious observance, adverse weather, other
  • Vacation leave in excess of 240 hours, on December 31 of each year, is converted to sick leave
  • Vacation Leave- state manual
  • 11 paid University holidays (announced annually)
  • Holiday premium pay and equal time off for certain University holiday work
  • Holiday Schedule
  • 96 hours earned each year; pro rata basis for part-time employees
  • Unlimited accumulation
  • May be used for the employee's illness or medical appointment, or for the illness or death of a relative as defined in policy
  • One month of retirement service credit allowed for each 20 days or portion of unused sick leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Disability Income Plan of North Carolina
  • Short-term benefits after one year of membership service
  • Long-term benefits after five years of membership service
  • Membership open to employees and their family members
  • Checking and savings accounts; bank cards; loans
  • Payroll deduction for savings and repayment of loans

Full-time faculty and staff members who are eligible for membership in the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System or Optional Retirement Program are eligible to enroll in three (3) courses per academic year during Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, subject to approval by the employee's supervisor and Human Resources.

Tuition Assistance

  • Recognizes aggregate State service of ten years or more for staff employees
  • Annual, lump-sum payment of 1.5 to 4.5 percent of annual salary, based on service
  • Available to eligible permanent, probationary, and temporary employees after 1 year service
  • Up to 12 weeks of leave available for birth and care of a newborn, care for an adopted child, care of a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition, or a personal serious health condition
  • Continuation of health insurance during leave period
  • FMLA
  • Additional pay when regularly scheduled to work during the covered hours for eligible employees
  • Accident Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Dependent Care Spending Account
  • Financial Planning
  • Health Care Spending Account
  • Life Insurance
  • Long-term Care
  • Short-term & Long-term Disability: Income Protection Plans
  • Vision
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Allows for up to four weeks (160) hours of paid parental leave for the birth parent for recuperation during the disability period for a newborn child; and
  • Allows for an additional four weeks (160) hours for both the birth and non-birth parent to care for and bond with an eligible child.
  • Covered employees utilizing approved leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care (or other legal) placement of a child that occurs on or after January 1, 2020 will be eligible for Paid Parental Leave.
  • To qualify, an employee must be full-time or part-time (half-time or more) in a permanent, probationary, or time-limited (benefits-eligible) position; have been continuously employed by the State of North Carolina for the immediate 12 months; and have been in pay status for at least 1,040 hours in the previous 12 month period.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty who are covered under University Policy #89 (Serious Illness and Disability Leave for Faculty) are not covered under the new Paid Parental Leave policy. 

Each new permanent staff employee attends an Employee Orientation Program which covers all benefit plans in detail. Enrollment requirements and procedures are provided at orientation. If you have questions, please contact:

302 HFR Administration Building
Cullowhee, NC 28723
(828) 227-7218


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