Academics Prepared for Retirement

Higher ed employees plan to retire later than other Americans, but a survey suggests they do more financial planning for that eventuality.

December 11, 2014

The economic downturn appears to have pushed back the timeframe for many higher education employees to retire -- but when they ultimately do, they will be better prepared financially and otherwise than other Americans, a new survey suggests.

The survey, by the pension giant TIAA-CREF, asked a group of higher education professionals a set of questions about their retirement plans and preparation, and compared those findings with a similar survey of all Americans.

Academic employees are likelier than other Americans to plan to work past the age of 65 -- 40 percent of campus workers said they plan to retire by 65, compared to 46 percent of all U.S. workers. And a full 25 percent of academics said they expected to retire at 69 or over, compared to 17 percent of other workers.

But when asked at what age they thought they would retire a decade ago, 56 percent of higher education employees had envisioned retiring no later than 65. (The number for all Americans was even higher: 64 percent.)

College and university employees are significantly likelier than other U.S. workers to have met with a financial adviser (36 percent vs. 22 percent, respectively) and to have saved for retirement in an IRA, 42 percent vs. 34 percent.

And while campus workers were slightly less likely than their counterparts to have had their employers match contributions to retirement accounts (73 percent vs. 78 percent), higher ed employees who received matches got larger ones, with 66 percent saying they received matches of 5 to 12 percent, compared to 44 percent for the general population.  

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Once they do retire, academics seem likelier than other Americans to keep one foot in the workplace. Thirty-seven percent of higher education respondents said they expect to work part-time, compared to 31 percent of other American workers.


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