Demystifying TIAA's Revenue Service Credits: A Boon for Higher Ed Retirees

January 19, 2024

HigherEd Retire Blog readers, have you received your 2023 TIAA year-end statement and noticed those mysterious "Revenue Service Credits"? If so, you're not alone! While these credits can be a welcome surprise, understanding their origin and implications can be puzzling. Fear not, fellow educators! This blog post dives deep into the world of TIAA's Revenue Credit Accounts (RCAs) and explains how these credits translate into extra cash in your retirement nest egg.

Let's Unpack the RCA:

First, imagine a general account called an RCA, a financial pool holding excess revenue generated by your TIAA plan. Think of it like a collective piggy bank for all participating institutions. This excess revenue can stem from various sources, including fees like recordkeeping agreements and operational service level agreements. But don't worry, employers can't use this account for personal expenses; it's strictly for plan-related matters.

The RCA's Purpose:

Remember those pesky tax regulations? Well, they dictate that these RCAs can't sit idle for too long. So, what happens to this accumulated wealth? This is where Revenue Service Credits come into play! Employers have two main options:

  • Cover Plan Expenses: The RCA can be used to pay reasonable and necessary plan expenses, such as audit fees, compliance monitoring, and even consultant support.
  • Allocate Credits to Participants: This is where it gets exciting! Employers can distribute excess RCA funds directly to your retirement account as plan servicing credits. These credits essentially represent your share of the plan's financial success, a bonus reward for being a loyal TIAA participant.

How Are Credits Distributed?

The good news is you have options! Employers can allocate these credits in various ways, such as:

  • Equal Amounts: Everyone gets the same slice of the pie, regardless of your individual account balance.
  • Proportional to Plan Assets: Credits are distributed based on your share of the overall plan's assets. This means individuals with larger accounts receive bigger credit boosts.

The specific allocation method depends on your employer's plan design and chosen formula. Don't hesitate to reach out to your plan administrator for further details on how your institution handles these credits.

The Bottom Line:

Revenue Service Credits are a fantastic benefit for higher education TIAA participants. They represent a tangible reward for contributing and can significantly boost your retirement savings. While understanding the nuances of RCAs and credit allocation methods might require some effort, the knowledge is definitely worth the investment. Remember, a little financial literacy goes a long way in securing a comfortable retirement future.

Bonus Tip: Don't overlook the power of Roth contributions within your TIAA plan. They might be hiding in plain sight, offering tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Check your statements and explore available Roth options to optimize your retirement strategy.

Greg Shepard

S&A Financial Services, Inc. 

YouTube Channel - HigherEd Retire

Podcast - HigherEd Retire

*Disclosure* S&A Financial Services, Inc. is a registered investment advisor. Content presented is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Always consult with your tax advisor or attorney regarding your specific situation.