UW Voluntary Investment Program

Save beyond your mandatory UW retirement plan by enrolling in the UW Voluntary Investment Program (VIP), a tax-advantaged 403(b) retirement plan that offers an array of mutual funds and annuities.

You choose your funds and how much you want to contribute. While contributions aren’t matched by UW, they are tax advantaged. And because the VIP is optional, you can start or stop contributions at any time.

Plus, get help when you need it from Fidelity Investments, the VIP administrator and the nation’s largest investment management firm.

If you’re looking for even more ways to maximize your retirement savings, you can also enroll in the Washington state Deferred Compensation Programs.

Enroll in VIP

Enrolling in the VIP is optional. It’s another way for you to save in addition to your primary UW retirement plan. Even if you aren’t participating in another UW plan, you can still enroll in the VIP.

All UW employees are eligible to participate (unless you receive a stipend or you are a nonresident alien who doesn’t receive income from a U.S. source).

Once you enroll, your contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck. You can contribute up to 75 percent of your salary or as little as $15 per paycheck. You can change your contribution amount at any time.

To choose your funds and start making contributions, enroll through Fidelity Investments.

Investment and tax options

What’s your approach to investing for retirement? Would you rather avoid taxes now and pay later, during retirement? Or would you prefer to pay taxes now so you don’t have to later?

Answering these questions depends both on your preferences and your situation. Luckily, you don’t have to be a financial whiz to answer them because, with the VIP, you get expert advice from Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest investment management firm and provider of workplace retirement plans.

Your investment options include an array of mutual funds and annuities. Whether you’re a hands-on investor or you prefer a simpler target-date fund, you’ll find a VIP funds that matches your investing approach.

Your tax options include making either pretax contributions or after-tax contributions. With pretax contributions, you defer paying taxes until retirement and your investments grow tax free. With after-tax contributions (also called Roth contributions), you pay tax now but withdraw your investment tax free at retirement.

For help with your investment and tax options, talk with a Fidelity representative. You can also review the UW VIP plan details and investment options.

IRS contribution limits

A big part of successfully saving for retirement is knowing how your retirement plan affects your taxes. Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets contribution limits for 403(b) retirement plans. While these limits are generous, make sure your UW VIP contributions don’t exceed them.

If you have both a UW VIP account and a UWRP account, which are both 403(b) plans, you need to make sure the combined total of all contributions to both accounts don’t exceed the IRS limits. For more information, see the section “limit on annual additions” on the IRS page for contribution limits for 403(b) retirement plans.

Rollover your old retirement plan

If you have retirement savings in another employer’s plan or in an individual retirement account (IRA), you can transfer it to your VIP account in most cases. Doing so makes it easier to manage your savings and plan for your retirement. For details about rolling over your old accounts, contact Fidelity Investments.

Loans and hardship withdrawals

Though your VIP funds are intended for retirement, you can take out a loan from your account. If you need more than a loan, certain substantial expenses qualify you to take a hardship withdrawal. Both options have tax implications and require you to follow plan rules for accessing the money.

If you want to take out a loan or apply for a hardship withdrawal, contact Fidelity Investments. Rules for both option are defined in section 6 of the UW VIP Plan Document (PDF).


Though your VIP funds are intended for your retirement, you may borrow from your account for any reason. You’re allowed to borrow up to 50 percent of your account balance with a minimum loan amount of $1,000 and a maximum of $50,000.

The cost to initiate a loan is $75, and you pay $6.25 each quarter (of the calendar year) to maintain the loan. After you initiate the loan, you pay the money back into your account, plus interest, using automatic deductions from your bank account. You can have only one loan at a time.

You don’t pay income tax or the early withdrawal penalty on loans. But if you fail to repay your loan, it will be considered in default, and you’ll have to pay taxes, per IRS rules.

Hardship withdrawal

If you have an immediate and substantial financial need, you can apply for a hardship withdrawal, which allows you to pay for the expense using your VIP funds.

You must provide documentation verifying the expense, and only certain expenses qualify including:

  • Medical expenses that aren’t reimbursable
  • Home purchase expenses (for only your primary residence )
  • College and post-secondary education expenses for you, your spouse, or your dependent (for only the next 12 months of expenses)
  • Expense that prevent your eviction or foreclosure of your primary residence
  • Burial or funeral expenses for your deceased parent, spouse, or dependents
  • Expenses for repairing damage due to a major disaster (per section 165 of the IRS code)

Before you can apply for a hardship withdrawal, you must first take out a loan from your VIP account to help pay for the expense. Once you take out a hardship withdrawal, you must pay income tax on the money plus the early withdrawal tax, per IRS rules.

Fund review committee

The UWRP Fund Review Committee is a standing committee defined in the plan document and authorized by the UW Board of Regents. The Committee has a fiduciary role in regard to UW retirement plans and is charged with operating exclusively in the best interests of the participants. Learn more about the Fund Review Committee responsibilities and membership.