The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System is a defined benefit retirement plan established by state law for public school and other public education employees in Arkansas. It is administered as a "qualified" government sponsored retirement plan under the provisions of IRS § 401(a). The state statutes, Arkansas Code § 24-7-201 et. seq., containing the benefit provisions for the plan are supplemented by ATRS Rules and Regulations. These laws and rules describe retirement benefits available and the conditions under which an ATRS member or beneficiary is eligible to receive them.

A member becomes eligible for benefits in the ATRS plan by accruing Service Credit and salary with a Participating Employer. While a member is working for an ATRS covered employer, the employer will contribute 15.00% of the member’s gross salary.

ATRS provides payments for life at retirement to eligible members in the form of an annuity. The annuity is calculated based on service credit, final average salary, and the member’s participation multiplier. Annuity benefits for members participating in the contributory plan are computed on a higher multiplier, resulting in a significantly higher annuity when compared to non-contributory members. Members in the contributory plan will contribute 7.00% of their gross salary. 

Plan Features

The sections below provide a brief explanation of the ATRS plan features so you may better understand what types of benefits are available to ATRS members. It is not an exhaustive list of all the benefit provisions or options available to the members. Members are encouraged to contact ATRS at (501) 682-1517 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss information specific to his or her situation.
Member Contributions | Employer Contributions | Retirement Eligibility | Annuity Benefits | Disability Benefits | Survivor Benefits | Lump Sum Death Benefit | Teacher Deferred Retirement Option Plan | Cash Balance Account

Member Contributions and Accumulated Interest

If a member is in the contributory plan, they contribute 7.00% of the salary received from the participating employer, as a pretax payroll deduction, to the ATRS plan. Contributions are credited to the member and earn interest at the rate set by the ATRS Board. The member contributions and accumulated interest are refundable if a member is no longer working for a participating employer or if the member dies prior to receiving retirement benefits. If member contributions are refunded all contributory and non-contributory years are canceled and the member is not eligible for any future retirement benefits.

For more information, see Member Contributions FAQs

Employer Contributions

ATRS employers pay an employer match of 15.00% on the salary paid to ATRS members. This amount paid by the employer is not credited to the member and is never refunded. 

Retirement Eligibility

A member with 5 years of credited service is considered “vested” and is eligible to apply for an Age and Service retirement annuity from ATRS if they meet eligibility requirements.

Annuity Benefits

Upon reaching eligibility for retirement, a member receives a lifetime, monthly annuity from ATRS that is calculated based on their option selection.

Members may elect one of four options for the ATRS retirement annuity: Straight Life Annuity; Option A; Option B; or Option C.

For more information, see Review of Annuity Options

Disability Benefits

If an active member becomes disabled while working for a participating employer and has five (5) or more years of actual and reciprocal service with ATRS, the member may apply for disability benefits from ATRS.

For more information, see: Disability and Disability Benefits FAQs 

Survivor Benefits

Vested active members may be eligible for Survivor Benefits.

For more information on eligibility and benefits, see: Survivors 

Lump Sum Death Benefits

Active and retired members may be eligible for a Lump Sum Death Benefit.

For more information on eligibility and benefits, see: Lump Sum Death Benefit


The Teacher Deferred Retirement Option Plan gives members with 28-30 years of service credit an incentive to continue to work in the public schools by allowing the member to build a savings account for when they are ready to leave the workforce.

For more information, see: T-DROP and T-DROP FAQs

Cash Balance Accounts (CBA)

The Cash Balance Account (CBA) is designed for members of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (ATRS) who are retiring out of T-DROP and want all or part of their T-DROP account balance in an account with highly competitive interest rates with no risk to principal.

For more information, see: CBA and CBA FAQs