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Cornell University Tax-Deferred Annuity Plan (TDA)

The Cornell University Tax-Deferred Annuity Program (TDA) benefit offers eligible employees a way to save more for their retirement income. Both endowed and contract college employees are eligible to participate in the plan.

Employees elect the amount or percentage that will be contributed to their account directly from their paycheck, before tax. Participating employees may select how the contributions are allocated between Fidelity Investments and/or TIAA, and the type of investment funds in which to invest.

All eligible employees are fully and immediately vested in their account balance once enrolled, meaning the money is yours to keep when you separate Cornell.


Employee contributions cannot exceed the annual dollar limitation ($22,500 for 2023). This limitation is determined by the IRS and may change annually.

If an employee will be age 50 any time during the year, additional money may be contributed based on the IRS determined limit.

2023 Annual IRS Limits

Age Maximum Contribution
Under age 50 $22,500
Age 50 and over $30,000

15-Year Catch-up Contribution Option

An employee of any age may be eligible to contribute to the 15-year catch-up (lifetime catch-up), if they have 15 years or more of service, and based on the total contributions previously made. The amount of the 15-year catch-up is equal to the lesser of:

  • $3,000;
  • $15,000 minus the prior 15-year catch-up contributions; or
  • $5,000 times years of service minus the total amount of 403(b) deferrals contributed (age-50 catch-up deferrals are not included in the 403(b) deferral review.

Please contact the HR Services and Transitions Center to see if you may be eligible for the 15-year catch-up. Due to the complexity of the 15-year catch-up eligibility review, this information isn't available until mid-year.

Enroll or Change Contributions 

Employees use Workday to select the amount or percentage they wish to contribute to their TDA account per paycheck, and what investment service provider to invest with, either with Fidelity Investments and/or TIAA .

Rolling Over Other Retirement Plans

Employees in the TDA plan may be able to rollover their account balances from other retirement plans. Rollovers can be accepted from 401(k), 401(a), 403(a), 403(b), non-governmental 457(b), profit sharing, stock plans, and traditional IRAs. For more information or to obtain a rollover application, contact Fidelity Investments and/or TIAA directly.


An employee is eligible to withdraw from their TDA account(s) upon one of these events:

Separation from Cornell

  • Retirement: At least age 55 and at least 10 years of credited service
  • Minimum Distribution: 72 and has not begun benefit distributions (mandatory).
  • Death: Paid to designated beneficiary(ies)
  • No longer employed by Cornell. A separated employee must work directly with Fidelity Investments and/or TIAA to take a distribution/withdrawal from their CUTDAP accounts(s). Cornell University does NOT sign off on distribution/withdrawal forms.

While employed by Cornell

  • In-service withdrawal: Age 59 1/2
  • Minimum Distribution: Age 72 (optional)
  • Disability: Receiving university long-term disability benefits and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. 
    A disability distribution is limited to one (1) distribution, up to 99% of the employee’s vested account balance, per plan, per calendar year (NOT per investment provider). When on an approved long-term disability with Cornell, an employee is considered an active employee. When contacting FidelityInvestments and/or TIAA, please do not indicate a status of terminated. Please let them know your request is for a long-term disability distribution.
  • Phased Retirement: Available for faculty and staff
  • Loans: Available 
  • Hardship: Withdrawals only available for certain financial hardships


Free Individual Consultations

Fidelity Investments and TIAA representatives are available for one-on-one individual counseling appointments on campus, by phone, email and/or Zoom.  Financial representatives can educate/assist on your contributions, balances, investments, your withdrawal/payment options, or other general retirement account-related information.


Fidelity Investments

Appointments: 1-800-642-7131

Customer Service: 1-800-343-0860

Online Account (Register first):


Appointments: 1-800-732-8353

Customer Service: 1-800-842-2776

Online Account (Register first):

TDA Documentation

Electronic Delivery Notice

Department of Labor regulations require Cornell University to provide you with a very large package of information about your retirement plan, which can be provided to you electronically by TIAA and Fidelity Investments if you sign up for electronic delivery. 

Electronic delivery is a fast and efficient way for you to receive this important retirement plan information via email, and it helps reduce paper and clutter for you at home and at work.

Electronic delivery is easy and ensures you have:

  • secure access to important plan information you need to know
  • the ongoing ability to download information and print documents
  • access to your delivery options that you can update at any time and/or revert to paper if necessary.

For TIAA:  Log into TIAA at Select My Account; select Update Profile & Settings; select Your Communication Preferences, select “Email” for the types of communications that you want to receive electronically.

For Fidelity Investments:    Log into Fidelity NetBenefits® at Select Profile, select E-mail address and verify it is correct, select Mail Preferences and then Update the types of communications that you want to receive electronically.