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TRA Benefits

The facts you need to know

In order to make an informed decision, you need all of the facts about TRA and the benefits and services you would be eligible to receive should you choose to participate in our plan.

The Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) is a defined benefit plan. Members who complete three years of service are considered "vested" and are entitled to the following benefits:

These benefits will be based on the average salary you earn during any five consecutive years when your salary is at its highest level, the number of years of service credit you have earned as a teacher, and your age at retirement, disability or death. We have been providing pension coverage to teachers since 1931.


TRA members and employers contribute 7.5 percent of eligible salary to TRA.

Contribution rates are determined by statute and are subject to change by the Minnesota Legislature.

Years of service

Years of service credit are accumulated.

Service credit is determined by the FTE (full-time equivalent) as defined in the Minnesota State bargaining unit agreement. For example, if an employee works 0.5 FTE during the fiscal year, 0.5 (one-half) year of service credit is earned. TRA defines service credit and earned salary on a fiscal year basis (July 1 through June 30).

Investment earnings

Member and employer contributions are invested by experts at the State Board of Investment (SBI). You will receive the same lifetime guaranteed benefit, as defined by the plan. You do not bear the risk of investment market fluctuations and do not need to be concerned about making appropriate investment choices.

Once you retire, an increase, if specified under current law, may be made to your monthly benefit. Annual increases are currently 2.0 percent.

No administrative fees

TRA member accounts are not charged an administrative fee for investment management.

Benefit options

At retirement TRA provides you with six different benefit plan options. All options provide you, the member, with a lifetime benefit payment. Where the plans differ is in the survivor options. There are plan options that provide monthly lifetime benefits to a beneficiary even after you are deceased.

TRA also has options to defer payments or to receive larger payments until age 62, 65 or normal retirement age when you may choose to begin receiving Social Security benefits.

If you are vested, pre-retirement benefits are available from TRA if you become disabled or die before retirement.

Other Minnesota public pension service

If you have previously earned service with one or more of the Minnesota public pension funds, and your combined service meets the TRA 3-year vesting requirement, you may elect at retirement to receive a combined service pension from each fund in which you have at least one-half year of allowable service.

Or, if you leave Minnesota State and begin work as a public or state employee, your retirement benefits will be calculated at the time of your retirement, as if you had always participated in one retirement fund.

Leaves of absence

Certain leaves are considered eligible periods of service for the Teachers Retirement Association.

Members may purchase service credit for extended, family, legislative, medical, military, parental, union and voluntary (state employees only) leaves of absence. Purchase of service is required for all sabbatical leaves. All leaves of absence must be authorized by the governing board of the state university or college.


If you terminate teaching service, you are entitled to a refund of your employee contributions. An interest rate of 4 percent is applied. Employer contributions are not included in the refund amount.

Deferred retirement

If you decide to leave teaching, you may leave your contributions in TRA. If you are vested and defer your benefit, you will receive a deferral increase each year until you retire (various deferral increase rates apply). This deferred option protects your pension coverage if you decide to leave your TRA-covered position. Your deferred benefit is predictable and not dependent on investment performance.

Previous MN Public Pension Fund/TRA covered employment

If you are a new hire and you have previous service that is covered by TRA or one of the MN public pension funds, or by the state unclassified employees retirement program, in most situations, you will automatically be enrolled as a member of TRA.

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