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403(b) MEP Formed by Group of Virginia Private Colleges

A group of 14 private colleges and universities in Virginia plans to create a 403(b) multiple employer plan (MEP). The group is one of the first in the higher education market to take such an action.

The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) made the announcement on April 3. Half of its 28 member schools are participating in the MEP, but CICV President Robert Lambert said in a press release that he believes that other CICV schools will join.

The 14 participating schools are adopting the MEP in waves, the CICV reports. The first three will do so in the spring or early summer of 2018. The CICV projects that all 14 will have adopted the MEP by the summer of 2019.

CICV says that it formed the MEP to:

  • help employees meet their retirement goals by providing education and advice to employees;

  • provide constant monitoring of investment options and fees charged;

  • reducing each school’s administrative burdens and fiduciary liability;

  • cut the of retirement plan management; and

  • afford each school the flexibility to tailor the plan to accommodate its needs.

Lambeth remarked that the MEP “is part of CICV’s overall effort to help colleges reduce costs and provide better services through collaboration” and that they believe that “participating schools will enjoy significant cost savings.”

The schools participating in the MEP include:

  • Appalachian College of Pharmacy

  • Averett University

  • Bridgewater College

  • Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

  • Emory & Henry College

  • Ferrum College

  • Hollins University

  • Lynchburg College

  • Mary Baldwin University

  • Randolph-Macon College

  • Shenandoah University

  • Southern Virginia University

  • Sweet Briar College

  • Virginia Wesleyan University

The MEP is run by a governing committee whose members include a representative from each of the 14 participating schools. Outside vendors provide 3(16), investment oversight, recordkeeping, employee education/advice, legal and administrative services; a vendor has not yet been named to provide accounting services.