Employee Experience

Leaving the University

Leaving the University

Retirement and separation from a university mark significant milestones in an individual’s career journey. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recognizes the importance of these transitions and is committed to providing comprehensive support to faculty and staff members during this period. This includes facilitating a smooth departure process, offering resources for retirement planning, and maintaining open communication to ensure a positive and respectful conclusion to their service within the university community.


Retirement at the university involves the intentional transition to the end of your employment when you have met certain eligibility criteria and made a personal decision to transition to a new phase in life.

Planning for Retirement

Financial Planning

You should begin to plan for retirement a few years in advance of your anticipated retirement date. This planning should include financial and nonfinancial considerations. We recommend that you start planning and evaluating options 5 years in advance of the time you think you may be ready to retire.

Once you have talked with SURS and signed your retirement papers, the next step is to contact your department. Your department will need a signed statement indicating your last day of work. It takes approximately 6 – 8 weeks for all processes to be completed.

Supplemental Retirement Accounts

Fidelity - Use Fidelity tools and calculators to help you prepare for retirement.

TIAA - Use TIAA tools and calculators to help you prepare for retirement.
Consider making additional contributions to your 403(b) and/or 457 account.

While still employed, you may be eligible to make extra “catch-up” contributions if you are age 50 or older. Allow at least 60 days for new enrollments or changes to take effect. For additional information contact University Payroll & Benefits using the UPB Service Portal.

  • You may be allowed to direct a portion of payouts for any unused vacation time and any compensable sick time (if eligible) to your 403(b) or 457 account. See Leave Payout for more information. Submit completed form(s) to UPB at least 60 days prior to your last day of employment. Contact UPB with any questions using the UPB Service Portal.

Ready to Retire

  1. Talk to your unit HR and your supervisor about your planned retirement date.
  2. 60 days prior to your retirement date
    1. Complete all required retirement applications steps with SURS. (must be done at least 60 days before your planned retirement date)
    2. If you wish to defer any of your accrued vacation or sick leave payout to a 403b or 457 account, this information must be communicated to university payroll and benefits at least 60 days prior to your last day of employment.
    3. Contact your unit HR so they can submit the benefits payout deferral worksheet to university payroll and benefits on your behalf.
  3. Provide written confirmation of your retirement date to your unit HR.
  4. Complete all exit transition activities.

Ready to Retire Checklist (PDF)

Planning for your next phase

Planning for retirement involves more than just financial considerations; it also encompasses a myriad of emotional components that are equally significant. Retirement marks a major life transition, often accompanied by feelings of excitement, anticipation, and liberation as individuals look forward to newfound freedom and leisure time. However, it can also provoke feelings of uncertainty, loss, and even anxiety as retirees navigate changes in identity, social connections, and daily routines. Many grapple with the prospect of losing the structure and sense of purpose that work provided, leading to questions about their value and relevance in retirement. Additionally, considerations about health, relationships, and finding meaningful activities can stir up complex emotions. Thus, a holistic approach to retirement planning must address not only financial goals but also emotional well-being, fostering resilience, adaptation, and a sense of fulfillment in this next chapter of life.


Separation can occur due to factors such as resignation, termination, the expiration of a fixed-term contract, or other mutually agreed-upon reasons that lead to the conclusion of the professional relationship. Unlike retirement, separation does not necessarily imply reaching a specific age or retirement eligibility; it can happen for a variety of reasons throughout one’s career.


Employees who have retired from the university may be rehired in an academic or civil service capacity in compliance with the State of Illinois Return to Work law, Board of Trustee policy, and campus guidelines.