Insurance and Retirement Plans and Vacation Time…Oh my!


So now that you’re comfortable with your offer letter, you decide to try to make sense of the benefits package. Here are some key things to consider:

Health, Dental, Vision
• What types of plans does the employer offer? Though which providers?
• How much does the employer contribute to the cost of each plan vs. how much is the employee responsible for?
• Can you contribute to a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account?

Retirement Plans
• What type of plan is offered?
• How soon can you begin contributing and when are you fully vested?
• Does the employer match a percentage of the employee contribution? For example, your company matches 50% of your 401(k) contributions, up to 3% of your salary. You elect to contribute 6% of your annual base salary (assume $50,000) to your 401(k) plan, $3,000 annually. Each year, your company would contribute $1,500 (3% of your salary). The total annual contribution to your retirement account is $4,500.

Vacation Time / Sick Time / Holidays
• How many days or weeks of vacation / sick time do you have each year? Does this increase over time?
• How long until you can use it? Can it be rolled over, or is it on a “use it or lose it” basis?
• Does the company follow a standard holiday schedule?

Life Insurance
• Many employers provide basic life insurance coverage free of charge, with the option to purchase more.

Tuition Assistance / Reimbursement
• Under what circumstances might this apply?
• Are there dollar limits or limits on the number of courses per year?
• Is reimbursement grade dependent?

Remember to evaluate your offer in terms of TOTAL COMPENSATION (SALARY + BENEFITS)! A generous benefits package equals extra dollars in your pocket!

Next week we’ll conclude this series with Offer Etiquette…


By MaryEllen Ryan
MaryEllen Ryan Senior Associate Director, Undergraduate Career Development, Pulsifer Career Development Center