St. Thomas employees’ benefits packages are changing, with an upgrade to the current tuition remission offerings and a shift in providers for retirement investment to Transamerica Retirement Solutions.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the benefits we can offer employees,” said Michelle Thom, associate vice president for human resources.

Tuition remission bump

Tuition remission for employee’ spouses and dependents will increase from 75 percent to 100 percent, effective the beginning of fall semester.

The current policy grants employees’ spouses and dependents 75 percent tuition remission to attend St. Thomas after the employee has worked at the university for one year. The new policy will cover tuition fully for employees’ spouses and dependents who attend St. Thomas after the employee has worked for St. Thomas for three years. Until next fall, current employees receiving 75 percent will continue at that rate until they hit the three-year mark and become eligible for 100 percent remission.

St. Thomas also has joined Tuition Exchange – a reciprocal scholarship program with more than 600 schools nationally and abroad – where qualified employees will receive tuition remission of varying percentages for their dependents (depending on a formula based on the number of students exchanged between schools). St. Thomas will continue its remission relationship with the Catholic College Cooperative Tuition Exchange program, as well as its standing policy of 100 percent tuition remission for employees themselves to attend St. Thomas.

“Given the cost of attending college these days, this is a very attractive aspect of our benefits for people,” Thom said. “It’s something we’re very proud of.”

Discussions are ongoing on whether these upgrades carry into St. Thomas’ remission agreements with Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities schools, which are currently at 75 percent.

“Our goal is to have the tuition exchange benefit in place by fall; however, depending upon the host school’s application or admission deadline, employees may not be able to take advantage of the benefit until fall of 2016,” Thom said. “Also, similar to any exchange benefit, participation is not a guarantee due to balancing requirements.”

Retirement shift

St. Thomas also has moved its retirement investment management from Fidelity and TIAA-CREF to Transamerica. The changes come after a lengthy review by St. Thomas’ Retirement Investment Committee of the performance and productivity of the school’s retirement plan, as well as the review and recommendation of an independent investment broker, Slocum.

“Slocum helped us through the process of identifying new, appropriate investment options that had stronger performance, lower fees and were easier to understand, and as a result we determined to change to Transamerica,” Thom said.

Transamerica is a San Francisco-based financial services company with more than 19 million customers, including a proven track record working with higher education institutions, Thom said.

“We believe this move will lead to stronger performance and better investment options for employees,” she added.

Employees will have the option of leaving their current investments at Fidelity and TIAA-CREF or rolling their funds into an account with Transamerica. Transamerica employees have been on campus  and will be throughout the rest of March  to meet with St. Thomas employees and answer any questions. To schedule an appointment with a Transamerica representative, visit stthomas.trsretire.com.

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