Give Yourself a Raise: Fully Appreciating Your Benefits
While the University of Rochester plans to restore its wage and salary program for the 2010-11 fiscal year, you can give yourself an even bigger “raise” by better understanding all that your University connection has to offer.
“Your salary is just a piece of your total compensation,” says Michele Hill, manager of the University’s Benefits Office. “There are lots of other opportunities you can tap to earn or save extra money, and they won’t necessarily show up on your pay stub.”
Below are some tips for leveraging your position here to live healthier, buy a new home, advance your education and much more.
- Whittle your waist, bulk up your wallet. In addition to its competitive insurance plans, the University extends numerous wellness programs and incentives to staff. For instance, employees who fill out a confidential online health assessment are eligible for a $100 incentive (available to regular full-time and part-time employees, retirees and their spouses/domestic partners who are enrolled in a University Health Care Plan). Another “carrot:” those who maintain perfect attendance at a Weight Watchers at Work session will be reimbursed 50 percent of the program’s cost. And, if you’re looking to work-out for pennies a day, membership to URMC’s on-site fitness center can be deducted right out of your paycheck, starting at $21 per month.
- Hit the books on the University’s tab. Eager to keep learning? Full-time faculty and full- and part-time staff, their spouses/domestic partners and their children may be eligible for substantial discounts on University of Rochester tuition. While unique eligibility criteria apply to each situation (staff service requirement completion, choice of study, etc.), it’s probable that some employees and/or their dependent children could even attend classes tuition-free.
- Watch savings grow for your golden years. Even without you making voluntary contributions, the University will make regular contributions totaling 6.2 percent of your annual salary up to $48,365, and then another 10.5 percent of your annual salary beyond that, up to an IRS limit of $245,000. (These limits are indexed annually based on national changes in average wages and are subject to change.) Also, representatives from any of the four investment companies available through the University’s retirement program invite you to sit down for an individual counseling session at no cost. A current schedule of one-on-one sessions is linked here.
- Buy a home with a $9,000 jumpstart. The University Home Ownership Incentive Program – a joint initiative between the University, the City of Rochester, Advantage Federal Credit Union and Canandaigua National Bank & Trust – offers up to $9,000 to eligible faculty and staff towards a down payment and closing costs for homes purchased in the city neighborhoods closest to the River Campus and Medical Center (sectors 4 and 6). While there are no minimum or maximum income requirements or service requirements for this University program, the buyer must agree to a five-year occupancy and employment commitment to complete the closing. The program also offers educational counseling to prospective home buyers via the non-profit agency NeighborWorks Rochester.
- Increase your financial savvy between “bites.” Representatives from Advantage Federal Credit Union, Bank of America, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, Chase Bank, HSBC Bank, M&T Bank and NeighborWorks Rochester offer ongoing lunchtime “Financial Health Bites” seminars right at the Medical Center. Topics range from guarding against identity theft to building better credit.
- Pay Uncle Sam his due – and no more! A Medical/Dental Flexible Spending Account (FSA) lets you pay for many of your routine, out-of-pocket medical and dental costs (prescriptions, orthodontia, contacts or eyeglasses, etc.) with pre-tax dollars. Similarly, a Dependent Care FSA allows you to use pre-tax monies for daycare or babysitting for youngsters under age 13. The next enrollment opportunity occurs in the fall, in tandem with health care plan selection. This year, make a note to attend an educational session to see how this valuable tool can help you hang on to your hard-earned cash.
While not technically considered Benefits Office programs, other little-known at-work perks include:
- University IT Computer Sales. In addition to servicing departmental equipment needs, University IT offers an array of educationally discounted computer hardware and software, an extensive line of computer accessories, audio/video equipment and video gaming products for faculty and staff to purchase for personal use. Some products (such as Dell computers) are offered at a special markdown to University employees. A sales office is located within the Medical Center, room G-7220B (near the ground floor Copy Center); you also can shop online here.
- The Family Care Program can save parents time and energy by offering daycare location assistance and informational materials. This free program maintains computerized listings of licensed daycare centers, registered family daycare homes and University students who are available to baby-sit occasional days, evenings or weekends. For more information call 267-4098.
To learn more about all of your benefits, visit www.rochester.edu/working/hr/benefits.