Majority of Adjunct Faculty are Saving For Retirement

New TIAA Institute Study Finds One-Half of Adjunct Faculty are Satisfied with Household Finances

New York, March 5, 2019 – Nearly 90 percent of adjunct faculty at American colleges and universities report that they are saving, with the most common reasons being retirement and building an financial emergency fund, according to a report released today by the TIAA Institute. The 2018 Adjunct Faculty Survey, which examined the personal finance and retirement savings practices of adjunct faculty, also found that one-third of adjunct faculty have contributed to a retirement plan offered by the college or university where they work.
“Having a greater awareness of the financial status, including retirement savings, of adjunct faculty will enable administrators to better provide for their employees and improve the strength of their institutions,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of the TIAA Institute. “This report builds on our understanding of a critical segment of the higher education workforce.”
While adjunct faculty are paid an average of $3,000 per course, nearly 60 percent receive less than that and 40 percent report they are working elsewhere in addition to their current college and university employment. Despite this, one-half of adjuncts report they are satisfied with their current financial situation overall. Fifty-six percent report that it is “easy to make ends meet” while 16 percent find it difficult.
According to the survey, an adjunct’s financial satisfaction is likely linked to their household income. Sixty percent of adjuncts are in households with incomes of $50,000 or more; 30 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more. This indicates that that the majority of adjuncts are in households where adjunct earnings are not the primary source of income.
Three-quarters of adjunct households carry debt. The most common debt sources are credit cards and home mortgages. Student loan debt was common among younger adjunct faculty; 48 percent of those under 40 report having student loan debt compared to just 12 percent of those 55 and older.
To view the full results of the personal finance and retirement savings portions of the 2018 Adjunct Faculty Survey, please click here .

About the TIAA Institute

The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit and follow us on Twitter @TIAAInstitute.

About TIAA

With an award-winning 1 track record for consistent investment performance, TIAA ( is the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields. TIAA has nearly $1 trillion in assets under management (as of 12/31/2018 2) and offers a wide range of financial solutions, including investing, banking, advice and education, and retirement services.

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1 The Lipper Large Fund Award is given to the group with the lowest average decile ranking of three years’ Consistent Return for eligible funds over the three-year period ended 11/30/12 (36 fund companies), 11/30/13 (48), 11/30/14 (48), 11/30/15 (37), 11/30/16 (34) and 11/30/17 (34) with at least five equity, five bond, or three mixed-asset portfolios. Note this award pertains to mutual funds within the TIAA-CREF group of mutual funds; other funds distributed by Nuveen Securities were not included. From Thomson Reuters Lipper Awards, © 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Used by permission and protected by the Copyright Laws of the United States. The printing, copying, redistribution, or retransmission of this Content without express written permission is prohibited. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Certain funds have fee waivers in effect. Without such waivers ratings could be lower. For current performance, rankings and prospectuses, please visit the Research and Performance section on Securities offered through Nuveen, LLC, and TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, members FINRA and SIPC.
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