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Benefits Orientation

Welcome to Western New England University! Western New England is a comprehensive private institution with a tradition of excellence in teaching and scholarship and a commitment to service.

As an employee of Western New England University, you receive a benefits package that provides excellent insurance coverage and retirement plan options. The decisions you make at the time of benefits enrollment will affect your insurance coverages and retirement plan participation. It is therefore important that you understand all of your enrollment options.

This orientation is for newly employed and newly benefits-eligible faculty and staff of the University.

In-Person Orientation

The Benefits office at Western New England University encourages all new benefits-eligible employees to attend an in-person benefits orientation. Attending an in-person benefits orientation provides you with a benefits packet that includes all of the documents you will need to enroll. Also, a university benefits staff member will guide you through the enrollment process and answer your questions.

Online Benefits Orientation

This online benefits orientation is not required. It is a useful tool for employees who want to review their benefits enrollment information and options online.

The orientation proceeds in sequence. The information you learn on one page may be necessary for the decisions you will make during a later step in the process. Although you are able to select the particular pages you wish to view, we recommend that you proceed through the orientation from beginning to end so that you do not miss any important information.

Important Deadlines

From your “benefits eligibility date” (normally the date you are placed on the Western New England University payroll), you have certain “enrollment windows” within which you must complete and return benefits enrollment forms. The “benefits eligibility date” relates to your enrollment deadlines. It is not necessarily the effective date that a specific benefit actually begins. Look for the benefit effective dates as you review each module of the orientation.

Regardless of the actual deadlines, below, we request that you return ALL forms within 30 days from your benefits eligibility date.

Within 30 days, all employees must complete and return:

  • Annual BENEFITS ELECTION FORM which includes medical, dental, and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) elections along with individual enrollment forms for each Plan.
  • Beneficiary Cards for Life and Long Term Disability Coverage
  • Retirement Plan Enrollment forms
Missed Deadlines

What happens if you do not meet a required enrollment deadline?

  • Medical & Dental Insurance: If you do not enroll within 31 days you will waive your right to enroll in the Plan. You likely will have to wait until the next open enrollment (up to one year) before you can enroll yourself or dependents in the Plan
  • Life Insurance: You will be automatically enrolled with basic plan coverage on your eligibility date. Without a named beneficiary any payments from the policy would go to your estate.
  • Short and Long Term Disability: You will be automatically enrolled in both the short and long term disability plan on your eligibility date.
  • Retirement Plan Enrollment: If you do not enroll before your eligibility date, you will be automatically enrolled in QDIA Account for your mandatory contribution.

*REMINDER: As a condition of employment, all employees hired on or after July 1, 2008, who have completed one (1) Year of Eligibility Service and have reached age 25 are required to make contributions to the Retirement Plan equal to 3% of Compensation. Student employees are not eligible to participate in the Plan.


You will be making important decisions about insurance and retirement plan enrollments as you review the online benefits orientation. Please allow yourself enough time to consider each benefit carefully. If you can't complete the orientation at one time, try to complete an entire section, enrolling in the health insurance plan, for example. You can then return another time and look at other options. Please refer to the sections listed on the Benefits Orientation page to find information regarding each benefit.

Online Benefits Orientation Requirements

You will need the following to complete the online benefits orientation:

  • A computer with access to the internet and a connected printer. You will download documents that you need to print and complete by hand.
  • A program that can display and print PDF files
    • Windows: https://get.adobe.com/reader/
    • Mac: The Mac comes with a "preview" application for viewing and printing PDF files. You can also download and install Acrobat Reader for the Mac
  • Information about your new position
  • Personal information for yourself, dependents and/or beneficiaries.

If you attend an in-person benefits orientation you will receive the documents listed on this page.

Insurance Packages

  • Health Insurance  
  • Dental Insurance
  • Group Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance
  • Short and Long Term Disability Plan Booklets
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA, aka HCRA) - Pretax savings account for medical expenses
  • Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCRA) - pre-tax savings for dependent care

Retirement Plan Documents

  • 403(b) Summary Plan Description
  • Group Supplemental Retirement Annuity
  • ROTH Information

Vacation Time

Sick Time

Other Benefits:

  • Tuition Remission
  • Tuition Exchange
  • Professional Development
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Health Services
  • Alumni Healthful Living Center
  • Voluntary Auto and Homeowner’s Insurance Program
  • Employee Discounts
  • Credit Union
  • FMLA

Returning Forms

Please return all completed forms to:

Campus mail: Office of Human Resources, Benefits Office

US Mail:
Western New England University
Office of Human Resources, Benefits Office
1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119

Health Insurance Plans

The University sponsors a Group Health Plan with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBS). The program is made up of comprehensive medical plans that include coverage for hospitalization, surgical care, physician services, prescription drugs, as well as preventative services. A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan and network are available for employee choice.

Newly eligible employees may enroll in one of the Western New England University Employee Health Plans as of their date of hire, or eligibility date. Employees may also join the Plan during the annual Open Enrollment period. Continuing employees may join the plan immediately if they have a qualified “Life Status Change.” 

To find participating BCBS health care providers go to https://myfindadoctor.bluecrossma.com

  • PPO network: Blue Care Elect (PPO/EPO)
  • HMO network: HMO Blue New England

Group Health Insurance is available to full-time and part-time employees. Full-time faculty and staff (working an average of 30 hours per week over a 12 month period) are eligible to receive University contributions toward the health insurance premium. Regular part-time employees whose established average workweek upon date of employment is 17 hours or more have the opportunity to participate in the group health plans offered by the University. Part-time are not eligible for University premium contributions. All premium payments are made through payroll deduction. To find the current employee contribution rates please refer to the Benefits Election Form found in the Benefits Election section of this Online Orientation.

Ready to Enroll?

Please fill out the BCBS Enrollment form. You will have to sign and return this form to Human Resources. Electronic signatures are not accepted by BCBS.

Once you are enrolled in the health plan, either HMO or PPO, you are automatically enrolled in the HRA Plan at NO additional cost to you!

Important Information -  HRA Enrollment 

Dental Insurance

Full-time employees and part-time employees who are expected to work 17 hours or more per week are eligible to participate in a voluntary plan. Employees pay the full cost of premium through payroll deduction on a pre-tax basis. To find the current employee rates please refer to the Benefits Election Form found in the Benefits Election section of this Online Orientation.

Ready to Enroll?

Please fill out the Blue Cross Blue Shield Enrollment Form. You should print, sign, and return this form to Human Resources. Electronic signatures are not accepted by BCBS.

Life and AD&D

On the first of the month following three months of continuous employment, the University will provide each regular full-time employee (faculty or staff) with a life insurance policy for an amount equal to one time the employee's annual salary, with a maximum of $150,000. The policy also provides additional benefits for accidental death or dismemberment. The full premium for Group Life Insurance is paid by the University.

Note: In the event that the basic benefit would exceed $50,000.00, the cost of providing insurance in excess of $50,000.00 is taxable to the employee according to the schedule established by the IRS. (Employees wishing to do so may waive life insurance benefits in excess of $50,000.00.)

Ready to enroll?

Although your enrollment in this policy will be automatic, we will need to keep your beneficiaries on file. Please fill out the Cigna Beneficiary Enrollment Form, print, sign, and return to Human Resources.

Short Term Disability Compensation Plan

A Short-Term Disability Compensation Plan is provided for all full-time employees who are regularly working at least 35.67 hours each week. This coverage begins on the first of the month following six full months of employment. The cost of the Short-Term Disability Compensation Plan will be paid by the University.

In order to qualify for benefits under this Plan, an employee must make application for benefits and provide adequate medical documentation that a condition of disability exists. A medically related leave anticipated to last longer than ten working days will be covered under the Short Term Disability Plan. The Short Term Disability coverage can last up to 13 weeks.


Group Long Term Disability Income coverage is designed to protect full-time employees, regularly scheduled over 35.67 hours per week, from loss of income in the event of a prolonged disability. An employee becomes eligible for enrollment in Group Long-term Disability Insurance on the first of the month following six months of continuous full-time employment.

The Group Long Term Disability insurance provides a monthly income benefit equal to 50% of an employee's base pay in the event of total disability, and also includes provisions for the payment of benefits in the event of a qualifying partial disability. The maximum disability benefit is $7,000 per month. The cost of Group Total Disability Income Insurance will be paid by the University. The elimination period for coverage under the Long Term Disability policy is 90 days.

Ready to enroll?

Enrollment in the Short Term Disability Compensation program is automatic.  Please fill out the Long Term Disability Enrollment Form, print, sign, and return to Human Resources.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA, aka HCRA) - Pretax savings account for medical expenses

A Health Care Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) is an employer-sponsored benefit that enables employees to set aside pre-tax dollars out of their paycheck to pay for eligible health care expenses. The average tax savings is typically about 25%. 

Common eligible expenses are prescription and office visit copays, vision expense, dental work, orthodontia and expenses that are applied to medical plan deductibles. Expenses that are for one’s general well-being, cosmetic in nature or not medically necessary are not eligible. For a full list of qualified expenses allowed by the IRS, see IRS Publication 502.

With health care FSAs, the entire elected amount is available to you on the first day of the health plan year. You don't have to wait for your payroll contributions to accumulate before paying expenses with your FSA.

 For additional information, please refer to:

Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCRA) - pre-tax savings for dependent care

A dependent care flexible spending account enables you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified dependent care expenses. Funds can be used to pay for day care, preschool, elderly care, or other dependent care. To qualify for a DCRA, the IRS requires that the dependent care is necessary for you or your spouse to work, look for work or attend school full-time. Please review the list of qualified dependents and qualified expenses before making your DCRA election. 

Unlike medical flexible spending accounts, your annual DCRA funds are not available upfront. Funds are only accessible as they are deposited with each payroll deduction. You are able to set up recurring automatic dependent-care reimbursements.

 For additional information, please refer to:

Ready to Enroll?

Please fill out the Health Equity FSA Enrollment form for either or both options. You should print, sign, and return this form to Human Resources. 

Make Your Benefit Elections

Now that you have reviewed your election options, you should make your benefits election for this calendar year. Newly employed individuals have 30 days to make their benefit elections.

Each year, Western New England University holds an “Open Enrollment” period where faculty and staff have a chance to change their benefit elections for the next calendar year. The Open Enrollment period is typically held in November with a January 1 effective date for elections.

When making benefits selections during open enrollment, it is important to keep in mind that the choices you make during open enrollment typically cannot be reversed or changed until the next annual open enrollment period rolls around. Exceptions can be made for certain qualifying Life Status Changes such as marriage, childbirth or adoption, loss of existing coverage for family members or loss of employment.

Please note: the retirement plan is offered year round, and salary contributions can be changed outside of an open enrollment period.

Ready to enroll?

Please fill out the Benefits Election Form to elect or waive coverage in the health, dental, or flexible spending account plans. Please note that employee contributions will be deducted on a pre-tax Section 125 arrangement, unless you inform us in writing of your intent to have your elections deducted post tax.

Retirement Plan

Western New England University offers a Defined Contribution Retirement Plan based on section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. All employees may enroll and make contributions into the Western New England University 403(b) Defined Contribution Plan upon hire.

The University will make contributions to the retirement plan for those employees who meet a year of service eligibility, which is defined as a 12-month period measured from your date of hire in which you are credited with at least 1,000 Hours of Service. New employees can receive credit for prior service with another tax-exempt organization immediately prior to employment by completing the Waiver of Waiting Period form.   

Eligible employees will receive University contributions when all eligibility criteria are met and enrollment forms completed. Eligible participants will receive two types of contributions from the University into their retirement account, a 4% Safe Harbor contribution and a matching contribution of up to 3%. 

Employees who do not meet the eligibility criteria will not receive contributions from the University, but may contribute their own funds into the Plan. (Student employees are not eligible to participate in the Plan.)

TIAA-CREF is the record keeper of the Western New England University 403(b) Defined Contribution Plan.

The University provides access to a Group Supplemental Retirement Annuity through TIAA-CREF. Group Supplemental Retirement Annuities (GSRAs) are tax-advantaged investments that are funded with voluntary contributions through a salary-reduction agreement.

Roth after-tax contributions are also available in the Western New England University Defined Contribution Retirement Plan.

Ready to Enroll?

  1. Please read and acknowledge the Retirement Plan Employee Orientation Form.

  2. Please enroll online with TIAA CREF.

    • The Access code for the Regular Retirement Account is: 151154dc
    • The Access code for the GSRA is: 151159tda
  3.  Please fill out your Salary Reduction Agreement for Retirement to specify your deferral amount.

 Please review the "OTHER BENEFITS" section below this section for additional employee benefits available to Western New England University employees.

Thank you for visiting the online Benefits orientation!

Vacation Time

Please refer to the Employee Handbook associated with your position for specific information regarding vacation time.

Sick Time

Please refer to the Employee Handbook associated with your position for specific information regarding sick leave.

Tuition Assistance Programs

Please refer to the Employee Handbook associated with your position for information regarding Tuition Assistance Programs that might be available to you.

  • Tuition Remission Form
  • Professional Development and Advanced Studies Approval Reimbursement Form (Exempt Staff)
Tuition Exchange Programs

Please refer to the Employee Handbook associated with your position for specific information regarding Tuition Exchange Programs that might be available to you.

Other Employee Benefits: