Retirement Plan

Eligible Bowdoin College employees may join the Bowdoin College Retirement Plan – a savings plan that sets aside money for your retirement. Bowdoin’s Retirement Plan is a 401(a) qualified plan through Fidelity Investments.

401(a) Plan - Fidelity Quarter 1 Performance and Investment Options

Bowdoin College Retirement Plan Investment Options 401(a)

Bowdoin also offers you the option of saving for your retirement through a Supplemental 403(b) Retirement Account, offered through Fidelity Investments, American Century or Vanguard.

403(b) Plan - Fidelity Quarter 4 Performance and Investment Options

Am I eligible?

Employees who have worked at least 1,000 hours over a 12-month period and are at least age 26 become eligible to receive retirement savings from the Bowdoin College 401(a) Retirement Plan.

Any employee can decide at any time to contribute to the Supplemental 403(b) Retirement Plan.

How much does it cost?

Unlike many retirement plans, you do not need to make your own contributions in order to be eligible. Bowdoin will make contributions to your account based on the chart below: 

Your age on July 1                  Amount of Contribution

26 - 49                                    10.12% of your compensation
50 or older                               12.13% of your compensation

In addition, Bowdoin will contribute an amount equal to 4.3% of your compensation in excess of 60% of the Social Security Wage Base in effect on each July 1st.  The Wage Base is updated every year.  The figure for 2017 is $127,200, so employees who earn more than $76,320 are eligible in fiscal year 2017-18.

You are fully “vested” for all retirement funds.  This means that if you retire or simply end your employment with Bowdoin, all funds belong to you (both the contributions and the investment earnings).

If you also wish to contribute money to your retirement, you can take part in the Supplemental 403(b) Retirement Account.

What is the difference between the Bowdoin College Retirement Plan and the Supplemental Retirement Accounts?

The Supplemental Retirement Accounts (SRA’s) are completely separate from the College’s Retirement Plan.  The Bowdoin College Retirement Plan is money that the College contributes on your behalf.  With an SRA, YOU make the contributions through pre-tax payroll deduction.

  • To take part in the SRA, you need to contribute at least $200 a year.
  • The maximum amount you can contribute on a calendar year basis changes each year.  The general limit for calendar year 2017 is $18,000.  If you are turning age 50 anytime in 2017 you are also eligible to contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,000. 
  • All contributions to a traditional 403(b) SRA are made on a “pre-tax” basis.
  • Once you set up the amount of the contribution, it will not change except at your request.
  • You may start, stop, or change your contributions at any time.
  • SRA’s are offered through Fidelity Investments, American Century, and Vanguard.  You can choose up to two companies.
  • Getting started with Fidelity NetBenefits -

An SRA is a great opportunity to save for retirement on a pre-tax basis, so consider starting a SRA, even if you can only contribute a small amount.

Bowdoin College Supplemental Retirement Account Plan - Plan Document

NOTE:  You also have the option to make after-tax contributions to a Roth 403(b) at Fidelity Investments.  Unlike a traditional, pre-tax 403(b), the Roth 403(b) allows you to contribute after-tax dollars, but then you can withdraw tax-free dollars from your account when you retire*.  This can assist you if the tax tables increase in the future or you feel you may be subject to a higher tax rate in your retirement than you are during your working years.  The general limit for calendar year 2017 of $18,000 applies to a combination of both traditional pre-tax 403(b) contributions and after-tax Roth 403(b) contributions.  There is not a separate limit for each type of contribution.

*In the event of either your retirement or termination, your earnings can be withdrawn tax-free as long as it has been five tax years since your first Roth 403(b) contribution and you are at least 59 ½ years old.

How do I decide where to invest my retirement funds?

For contributions made on your behalf by the Bowdoin College 401(a) Retirement Plan you must pick from a College approved list of investment options.  The approved list of investment options is reviewed annually by the College’s Investment Committee and is subject to change.  For Supplemental 403(b) Retirement Accounts there are a number of funds to choose from with Fidelity, American Century and/or Vanguard.   If you use Fidelity for your SRA contributions for either your traditional pre-tax 403(b) contributions or your after-tax Roth 403(b) contributions, you can pick funds from the approved list of investment options available for the Bowdoin College 401(a) Retirement plan or from any available Fidelity 403(b) fund.  Fidelity Investments also sends a Bowdoin designated representative to campus several times a year and (s)he is available to provide personal investment advice.  You can schedule an appointment by calling Fidelity at 1-800-642-7131.

What is a Fidelity Freedom K fund?

How do I get started or make a change to my existing SRA contribution?

When you become eligible to receive contributions from the Bowdoin College 401(a) Retirement Plan you will receive the enrollment materials and a list of investment options from Human Resources.

If you wish to make your own retirement contributions to a Supplemental 403(b) account you can do so at any time by taking the following steps:

  • Decide which carrier(s) you want to use.
  • Contact Mary Cote in Human Resources x3033 or to obtain the enrollment materials for the carrier of your choice.
  • Decide how much money you want to contribute each pay period.
  • After the account is open and ready to accept contributions, you must designate the amount  you want to contribute through your Workday account - click on the Benefits Worklet on your home page and and then "Change Benefits" for additional instructions. You can change the amount you are contributing at any time. The amount you elect to contribute continues on each pay period (even into the next calendar year) until you change it otherwise. You are responsible for making sure you understand and adhere to the contribution limits.

How do I change or update my beneficiaries?

In order to change or update the beneficiaries of your retirement plan(s), print and complete the appropriate form and return to Human Resources.  If you have questions about the forms, please contact Mary Cote (x3033) in Human Resources.

For retirement accounts with TIAA-CREF, please request a beneficiary change form directly from them (1-800-842-2252).

For retirement accounts with Vanguard, please request a beneficiary change form directly from them (1-800-662-7447).

Bowdoin College Retirement Plans - Plan Documents