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Student Employees & OPERS
Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) for Student Employees
Employees (including student employees) of Ohio public institutions do not contribute to the federal Social Security system, other than contributions to Medicare (employees hired after April 1, 1986).
As a student employee, your retirement contributions will be directed to the state retirement plan, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS).
You may be eligible to opt out of OPERS participation when first hired by UC as long as certain requirements are met. See below for additional information.
Facts you should know:
- As a student employee you have ONE opportunity to waive OPERS membership. In order to do so, you must submit an OPERS Request for Optional Exemption as a Student form (OPERS Form F-3).
- Optional exemption is available to undergraduate students taking at least six (6) credit hours and graduate students taking at least five (5) credit hours. Membership in OPERS for student employees enrolled less than half time is required by law.
- The form must be signed and submitted within 30 days of your initial employment start date. Any form signed prior to, or more than 30 days later than your initial employment start date will be void. The 30 day window is an OPERS requirement, not the university's.
- Participants in the cooperative education program are not eligible for exemption during their work term(s).Co-op students who are employed full time equivalency (100% FTE) are eligible to participate in the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) rather than the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). Newly hired UC co-ops are eligible to elect the ARP within 120 days of their hire date. If the co-op does not make an election within the 120 day deadline, contributions will automatically be defaulted to OPERS.
- To make an election you must submit a Retirement Plan Election form to UC Benefits within 120 days of your hire date.
- You must have a 365 day break from student employment with UC in order to change your retirement election. Rehired or transferred student employees without at least a 365 day break in UC service may not change their election.
- Changing positions of employment or departments within the university does not void an exemption or constitute separation of employment.
- Rehired student employees are NOT eligible to make a new OPERS election unless all positions are separated and the rehire occurs 365 days or more following the last separation of employment.
- You should forward the original of the completed Request for Optional Exemption as a Student form (F-3) to the Human Resources Department. You will NOT receive a confirmation copy.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have a deduction on my check for OPERS. What is OPERS?
- Employees (including student employees) of Ohio public colleges and universities do not participate in the federal Social Security system other than contributions to Medicare. Instead, staff, librarian AND student employees contribute to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). From your initial date of hire, you are assigned to OPERS if you have chosen not to complete the OPERS Student Waiver.
I have an OPERS Student Waiver on file but have received a letter from OPERS indicating that I am enrolled in OPERS. Why am I enrolled if I am not contributing?
- If you become ineligible for the OPERS Student Waiver at any time throughout the year you will have OPERS contributions deducted from your pay. These funds will be applied to your OPERS account.
I understand that as a student employee I may be eligible to be exempt from OPERS contributions. Is this correct? How do I go about requesting this exemption?
- Optional exemption is only available to student employees working for the University of Cincinnati while currently enrolled at UC on at least a half time basis. Participants in the cooperative education program are not eligible for exemption during their work terms. Undergraduate students must be taking at least six (6) credit hours and graduate students five (5) credit hours to be considered enrolled half time.
- The following requirements must be met:
- The Request for Optional Exemption as a Student (OPERS Form F-3, under the heading Colleges/Universities only) form must be signed and received within 30 days of a student employee's start date. Forms received after the 30 day period will not be processed. The properly completed Form F-3 is submitted by the University of Cincinnati to OPERS for certification.
- Student Exemption Forms must meet the following criteria in order to be approved:
- Form must be signed by the student. The student signature must be handwritten and cannot be altered (whited out, crossed out, or written over).
- The student signature date must be within 30 days of the employment date and cannot be altered (whited out, crossed out, or written over).
- Must contain either the social security number or employee identification number.
- Form F-3 will be applicable in the payroll period during which it is received (as long as received within 30 days of start date).
- Students should review the benefits of membership in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Exemption is optional and must be completed by the student. Information regarding the benefits of membership can be found at www.OPERS.org or call 1-800-222-7377 to speak with a member services representative.
I am a student employee currently enrolled for 10 credit hours but will change to 3 hours during summer term. I will be working for the university during the summer. Is my student exemption valid during the summer?
- Except during the intersessions between academic terms, OPERS contributions will be STARTED or STOPPED each pay period based upon the student's current enrollment status. If the student's current credit hours fall below the required minimum (5 for graduate students; 6 for undergraduate students), OPERS contributions will START during that payroll period. If the students enrolled hours increase to more than the required minimum, OPERS contributions WILL STOP automatically that payroll period as long as the student has a Form F-3 on file and remains a student-employee. Note that Medicare tax deductions and the applicable student exemption are based on the same enrollment criteria, and will start and stop following the same registration data.
I am a co-op student. Am I eligible to be exempt from OPERS contributions?
- Participants in the cooperative education program are not eligible for exemption during their work terms.
I am a graduate assistant paid through UC payroll. Am I eligible for exemption from OPERS contributions?
- Optional exemption is only available to student employees including graduate assistants working for the University of Cincinnati while currently enrolled at UC on at least a half time basis. Graduate assistants must be taking five (5) credit hours to be considered enrolled half time.
I am an international student employee. Am I eligible to be exempt from OPERS contributions?
- You would be eligible providing you meet the exemption eligibility criteria. The optional exemption is available to student employees working for the University of Cincinnati while currently enrolled at UC on at least a half time basis. Undergraduate students must be taking at least six (6) credit hours and graduate students five (5) credit hours to be considered enrolled half time.
I have terminated my employment with the University of Cincinnati. Can I apply to receive a refund of my OPERS contributions?
- Yes, you must contact OPERS to initiate a refund. The law requires that two months must elapse from the date you terminated public employment before UC will certify your termination. If you terminate your employment, you are not required to take a refund of your contributions. You may leave your contributions on deposit with OPERS after you terminate public employment or move your funds to another tax deferred option.