Plan Overview

Plan Overview

The Mississippi Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) serves eligible institutions of higher learning employees in Mississippi and is one of several programs administered by the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS). Below are the important features about the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), a 401(a) custodial account program. This website is intended to be a summary of the plan provisions. In the event that a conflict exists between the information contained within this website and the plan document, the plan document provisions prevail. For more information, please contact your local representative.

Fee Structure

Effective January 1, 2020, ORP vendors moved from an asset-based recordkeeping fee (based on a percentage of account balance) to a flat annual recordkeeping fee (see table below). The pro-rated flat fee will be assessed and then published on participant quarterly statements. This is the MS ORP Plan# 666314.

Also in 2020, participants were able to select a version of the MS ORP Plan that offered an option with in-plan guidance from an advisor. Fees for this service are asset-based (see table below), and participants may subscribe for these portfolio management services from their ORP vendor. This is the MS ORP Plan #664478.

Note: Under ORP, you control your investments choices, distribution methods, and retirement goals. All investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.


Voya Fees

Plan Information

Annual Recordkeeping Fee



In-plan Guidance Fee

0.25% of account balance



You and your employer each contribute a certain percentage of your total compensation to the program. Your salary is then "reduced" by the amount of your contribution, which along with the employer's contribution, is sent to Voya Financial®  and invested according to your instructions. The amounts reduced are the same amounts that would have been deducted under PERS.

Under the Plan, the maximum annual contribution amount is set by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines on a yearly basis. You may view the current limits here.


Under the provisions of Mississippi law, you may not withdraw funds from the ORP except upon the earlier of your termination of participation or attainment of age 73. Participation is terminated by death, retirement (including disability retirement), or termination of employment in all Mississippi public institutions of higher education participating in the ORP. If you are eligible to take a distribution in the plan, distributions taken prior to age 59½ are subject to an IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax, unless an exception applies. 

If you have not yet started taking RMDs, your first RMD must be taken by April 1st following the calendar year in which you reach RMD age. Subsequent RMDs must be taken each calendar year by December 31st. If you are still an active employee and have reached RMD age, you are not required to take an RMD until your employment ends as a public employee.

Your age will determine when you must begin taking RMDs.

  • Born on or before 6/30/49              70 ½
  • Born between 7/1/49-12/31/50         72
  • Born on or after 1/1/51                       73

Note: The RMD age is scheduled to increase to age 75 for RMD distributions after 2033. 


Voya Financial® provides a wide variety of payout options (subject to your plan provisions) when you retire, including the option to: 

  • Request a full or partial withdrawal (may be subject to federal withholding and possible tax penalties). 
  • Request a systematic distribution option including Estate Conservation Option, Systematic Withdrawal Option, and Life Expectancy Option.

Please note: If you are considering retirement outside of the United States, it’s important to look at the tax implications, as well as the ability to transfer funds internationally. It is also important that you make arrangements before you leave the United States. Please contact your local Voya representative today to discuss your specific plans and circumstances.

You should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the mutual funds offered through a retirement plan, carefully before investing. The fund prospectuses and information booklet containing this and other information can be obtained by contacting your local representative. Please read the information carefully before investing. 

Mutual funds under a 401(a) trust agreement are intended as long-term investments designed for retirement purposes. Mutual fund values fluctuate with market conditions, and when surrendered, the principal may be worth more or less than the original amount invested. The Plan’s Stable Value Option invests in the Voya Stable Value Fund, which is a collective investment trust maintained by Wilmington Trust Company. The Plan’s Stable Value Option is backed by a group annuity contract issued by Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity company (“VRIAC”). Guarantees are based on the claims payment ability of Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company. The Plan’s Stable Value Option, the Voya Stable Value Fund and the VRIAC group annuity contract are not registered investment companies and are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although it is possible to have a guaranteed income for life with a fixed/variable annuity, there is no assurance that this income will keep up with inflation. Early withdrawals taken prior to age 59 ½ are subject to an IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax unless an exception applies. Money distributed will be taxed as ordinary income in the year the money is distributed. An annuity does not provide any additional tax benefit, as tax deferral is provided by the Plan. Annuities may be subject to additional fees and expenses, to which other tax-deferred funding vehicles may not be subject. However, an annuity does offer other features and benefits, such as lifetime income payments and death benefits, which may be valuable to you.