Minnesota Association of Charter Schools

Minnesota Association of Charter Schools districts and their employees can now enjoy the benefits of our WEA TSA Trust 403(b) program.

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Member Benefits 403(b) program available to schools in the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools

Since 1972, WEA Member Benefits has been partnering with Wisconsin public school districts to provide their employees with access to our 403(b) program. Until now, the ability to participate in the trust was limited to eligible Wisconsin public schools. We are now accepting eligible public charter schools in Minnesota!

The 403(b) is a great way for public employees to save for retirement. It’s similar to the 401(k) offered in the private sector.

Our 403(b) program has been nationally recognized by Forbes magazine and the Los Angeles Times as a low cost, soundly managed retirement savings option for public school employees.

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Is your retirement plan compliant?

Are you prepared for a plan audit?

Are your employees being overcharged?

Don’t have a 403(b) for your employees?

Member Benefits provides excellent recordkeeping and support services to district staff administering the program. We also provide complimentary plan documents, annual compliance reviews, and all regulatory and legal required changes at no cost to your district or participants. In addition, we can assist with:

  • 403(b) plan compliance
  • Designing a 403(b) retirement plan for your employees
  • Plan document services
  • 403(b) plan audit consultations
  • Recordkeeping and retirement plan support for staff
  • Introducing staff benefits without straining budgets
  • Establishing Roth 403(b) and automatic enrollment initiatives, and more!
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What is a 403(b)?

Public school employees have a unique opportunity to invest for their retirement through a 403(b) retirement plan, sometimes referred to as a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA).

Offered through the employer, 403(b) plans:

  • Are salary deferral plans that allow your employees to contribute to their retirement through the convenience of payroll deductions, like 401(k) plans offered in the private sector.
  • Offer them the opportunity to build up retirement savings and direct their savings investments to best meet their goals and personal situations.
  • Accept contributions on a before-tax and/or Roth (after-tax) basis. Please check with your district to see what type of 403(b) contributions are permitted.

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Why do my employees need a 403(b)? As an employer, why should I care about my employees’ retirement plan and offer a 403(b) program?

Here are a few of the most important reasons why your district should offer a 403(b) plan to your employees.

  • To help employees save for retirement. A 403(b) plan is a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan, which means that employees can contribute money to the plan before taxes are taken out. This can help them save more money for retirement.
  • To attract and retain top talent. In today’s competitive job market, offering a 403(b) plan can be a valuable way to attract and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to choose to work for a school district that offers a 403(b) plan, and they are also more likely to stay with the district if they have a 403(b) plan.
  • To improve employee morale. A 403(b) plan can help to improve employee morale by giving employees a sense of financial security for their retirement. Employees who are saving for retirement are more likely to be happy and productive at work.
  • To choose their investments. Employees can choose from a variety of investment options, so they can find the ones that are right for them.
  • To make contributions how they want. Employees can make contributions to their 403(b) plan on a pre-tax or Roth (after-tax) basis. Pre-tax contributions reduce the amount of taxable income that employees have, while Roth contributions grow tax-free.

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Who is WEA Member Benefits and why were you created?

The WEA TSA Trust was created by the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) in 1978 to offer Wisconsin public school employees a low-cost alternative to commercial retirement savings plans by operating as a not-for-profit trust that reinvests any profits back into the 403(b) program that benefits participants. We are dedicated to helping employees achieve their financial goals by offering an investment program that is designed with unique qualities that set us apart from other commercial providers.

We strive to deliver the highest quality at the lowest cost. Our vision is clear—to be our client’s trusted partner driven by our core values of honesty and integrity, as well as our commitment to maintain complete independence and transparency in everything we do.

The WEA TSA Trust focuses solely on the public school, non-ERISA 403(b) market. We have a deep understanding of the nuances of 403(b) plan administration and the unique issues faced by public schools. We currently provide 403(b) services to over 430 school districts in the state of Wisconsin. For the first time, the Board of Trustees has authorized public schools outside of Wisconsin to join the WEA TSA Trust.

Education is fundamental to how we do business. We provide public school employees with the information they need to make sound decisions about their personal finances and our programs are designed with educators in mind.

Because we have no shareholders or commissioned salespeople, we can put the best interests of the participant and school district first. WEA TSA Trust provides plan administrators with tools, resources, and 403(b) best practice insights to help districts effectively manage their retirement plan. We are also able to provide these benefits at no cost to the district.

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What is Member Benefits’ commitment to quality?

We provide first-class customer service, employee education, and employer resources. We are committed to the highest level of customer service and responsiveness that is supported by an internal “A+ Performance” framework. We strive to respond to all service inquiries upon receipt but not longer than one business day.

Education is fundamental to how we do business. Because we have no shareholders or commissioned salespeople, we can put the best interests of the participant and school district first.

We strive to deliver the highest quality at the lowest cost. The cornerstone of our program is group purchasing. The power of group purchasing, with the pooled scale of 430 school districts and nearly 50,000 participants, directly from mutual fund companies allows the WEA TSA Trust to seek the most advantageous share class available for participants. Leveraging this kind of scale is not possible for individual investors and school districts. This is how participant costs are kept low.

The program ensures a high-quality investment lineup through an Investment Committee. The committee vets the mutual fund universe to build and maintain a fund lineup that enables participants to build a diversified portfolio of soundly managed funds. The committee meets quarterly to evaluate fund performance and recommend changes when necessary.

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What services do you offer to 403(b) plan sponsors and how much do they cost?

All of our services are offered to our 403(b) plan sponsors at no charge. For over 50 years, we have partnered with school districts to provide public school employees with access to a high-quality, low-cost 403(b) program. Some of the employer resources and services we provide include:

  • Providing sample documents to assist you with the development of your 403(b) plan
  • Setting up employer contribution programs, including matching and vesting
  • Automatic enrollment programs
  • Assisting during audits

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Why should my district consider using WEA Member Benefits’ plan documents?

Our 403(b) plan documents were developed based on the IRS model plan language, and we will assist you in making sure that your 403(b) plan remains in compliance. Some other features of our plan documents include:

  • No cost. There is no cost to the district for implementation or future updates.
  • Expert access. You have access to 403(b) experts dedicated to the compliance of your 403(b) plan.
  • IRS compliance. We use IRS pre-approved plan documents.

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Do I need a third-party administrator (TPA) to help administer our retirement plan?

When setting up a 403(b) plan, plan sponsors are often asked if they need a third-party administrator. With Member Benefits, no TPA is necessary. When the final 403(b) regulations were released, many employers sought out third-party administrators (TPAs) to help administrate their plan. However, many employers have discovered a TPA can create more difficulties for employees wishing to participate in the plan, create more work and processes for the employer, and be costly.

With the aid of WEA Member Benefits’ plan administration consulting services, many districts have learned how simple self-administering a 403(b) plan can be. Our team works with you to create processes that allow you to run an efficient and compliant plan.

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What other consultative services can you provide employers/plan sponsors?

We can assist with:

  • Compliance with 403(b) regulations
  • Adding benefits for staff without impacting the district’s budget
  • Setting up Roth 403(b) programs
  • Setting up automatic enrollment programs
  • And more!

Member Benefits is dedicated to helping our 403(b) plan sponsors build financial security for their employees free of charge.

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Do you provide matching/vesting options?

Yes! A 403(b) matching and vesting program can offer substantial benefits to both employees and employers. For employers:

  • It makes your district more competitive when recruiting quality staff and encourages employee retention.
  • It provides an incentive for employees to participate in the 403(b) program and build financial security for their future.

Member Benefits can help you set up your program and provide record-keeping services at no charge. WEA Member Benefits has helped many employers in the design, implementation, and administration of vesting benefits. Whether it is a discretionary contribution, matching contribution, or a combination of the two, we can help your district.

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What is the cost to my employees? Please provide details regarding program costs that are incurred by plan participants.

WEA Member Benefits operates as a not-for-profit trust that reinvests any profits back into programs that benefit participants. We have no shareholders. This allows us to focus on meeting the needs of those we serve with high quality products that are competitively priced rather than increasing profits.

We believe that minimizing costs is a key factor in the long-term success of plan participants. We do not use individual investment advisors to distribute or sell products and we do not pay sales commissions. Our model removes the layer of investment advisor commissions and/or investment management costs normally borne by plan participants. Instead of investment advisors, we offer access to licensed, non-commissioned Retirement and Investment Services (RIS) Specialists who assist plan participants with investment-related matters

Our 403(b) program has been nationally recognized by Forbes magazine and the Los Angeles Times as a low cost, soundly managed retirement savings option for public school employees. Our 403(b) program has received high accolades from for the product and services we offer to the schools, school districts, and the program participants we serve.

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