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403b Calculator

Created by Tibor Pál, PhD candidate and Oghenekaro Elem
Reviewed by Steven Wooding
Last updated: Jan 18, 2024

403b calculator is a tool for you to evaluate the growth of your monthly contribution to a 403b retirement plan. You can determine the best contribution percentage and interest rate that will help you achieve your retirement goals faster. And when you finally hit that jackpot through the compounding growth of your investment, you can find out how long you'll take to make your 403b retirement withdrawals with this 403b calculator.

This article discusses how to use the 403b calculator to plan for retirement, what makes the 403b account different, and the 403b max contribution.

What is a 403b plan?

A 403b plan is a retirement plan designed for employees in nonprofit organizations and government workers in public institutions such as hospitals, the police, fire service, public schools, religious organizations, etc. The plan's structure is like a 401k, with tax advantages that allow employees' earnings to grow tax-free until you withdraw the money. Hence, 403b plans are also referred to as Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) plan.

If you're wondering how the 403b account is different from other retirement plans, look at it this way:

  • Private sector or for-profit workers get a 401k retirement plan (learn more about it at our 401k calculator).
  • Federal government workers and uniform service members get a Thrift Savings Plan.
  • Nonprofit and government workers get the 403b retirement plan.

With the 403b retirement calculator, you can estimate if this plan is appropriate to realize your retirement savings goal or whether you should consider using other retirement plans you're eligible for.

Next, let's talk about how a 403b works.

How does a 403b work?

Like the other employer-sponsored retirement plans, 403b plans are also payroll-deducted contributions where the participants can direct how the funds get invested towards their financial goals.

There is not much difference between these plans. A common feature is that:

  • Some 403b's may have an employer-matching contribution.
  • There is a traditional contribution (before-tax dollar contribution) and a Roth contribution (after-tax dollar contribution) option with the accompanying tax implications or treatment - check our roth IRA calculator for more details.
  • The IRS elective deferral limit limits maximum annual contributions to $19,500. And an additional $6,500 as a catch-up contribution for individuals aged 50 years or older.
  • You will need to keep your money in your account until you are 50.5 years or incur an early withdrawal penalty of 10% of the amount in the 403b account (some exceptions qualify you for hardship withdrawals). The 403b retirement calculator factors in your age when evaluating your withdrawals.
  • You must begin taking withdrawals or required minimum distributions (RMD) by age 72.
  • The IRS Section 415(c) limit also applies 403b contributions. The maximum contribution an employer and employee can contribute to an individual retirement account is $58,000 or $64,500, including catch-up contributions.

How to use the 403b calculator for your 403b retirement plan?

Follow the below steps to set up your 403b plan:

  1. As the first step, you need to select what you would like to know.

    • Initial 403(b) balance – estimates the required initial balance to reach a specific final 403b balance.
    • Final 403(b) balance – estimates the final balance of your 403b account.
    • Required annual salary – choose this option if you want to know the required annual salary to reach your final goal.
    • Contribution percentage – estimates the minimum contribution percentage of your salary to reach your final goal.
    • Age of retirement – if you would like to know when you would reach a specific final 403b balance.
    • Required rate of return – what rate of return should you have to reach a given final balance.
  2. Set the required parameters in the 403(b) Employee savings plan section.

    • Your salary – you may set hourly, weekly, monthly or annual salary.
    • Contribution percentage – the percentage of your salary transferred monthly to your 403b account.
    • Annual contribution – you can also set the annual amount of the contribution.
    • Contribution starts at the age of – set the age of opening your 403b account.
    • Planned age of retirement – the expected age when you plan to retire.
    • Current 403(b) balance – set the amount you expect to start your retirement with.
    • Aimed final balance – set your final 403b balance goal.
    • Annual rate of return – the expected interest rate on your balance.
    • Annual salary increase – you may set an annual growth rate for your salary here.
  3. Set the variables in the 403(b) Employer contribution section.

    • Contribution percentage – the percentage of your salary transferred monthly to your 403b account from your employer.
    • Annual contribution - you can also set the annual amount of the employer contribution.
  4. Learn the results in the last section.

After setting the above parameters in the retirement withdrawal calculator, you can immediately read the result in a summary table and check your balances in a dynamic chart or a payment schedule.

Difference between 401k vs. 403b account

The main difference between the 402b and other retirement plans is that if you have 15 years of service and your company is considered a "qualified organization", you may be eligible to contribute an extra $3,000 to a 403(b). Therefore, 403b max contribution potentially increases to $22,500 or $29,000 per annum if you're 50 or older.

Another difference is that 403(b) plans can only offer mutual funds and annuities as investment options, and you can only choose from the options selected by your employer, the plan sponsor. On the other hand, the 401k can have over 20 investment options, and the TSP offers a combination of 5 different investment fund options. However, this distinction becomes less significant over time, primarily because of the rate of return on compounding investment. If your employer offers a matching contribution, please make sure you contribute enough to get your company's full matching amount. You can always move the funds in a 403b to an IRA with more investment options later.

Pros and cons of 403b plan

Pros of 403b retirement plan

  • Some employers offer matching contributions of up to 50% of your contribution, fixed at a percentage of your base salary.
  • You may get a good deal for investing in a 403b in terms of management and administrative fees. Also, some financial institutions waive their minimum investment requirements to incentivize employees to invest in their funds.
  • Your contributions and earnings are tax-deferred.
  • You may be able to take out 403b loans depending on the rules set up in your account.
  • You may be eligible to take a credit for elective deferrals contributed to your 403(b) account.
  • Funds invested in the 403b accrue compounding earnings.

Cons of 403b retirement plan

  • Most employers are unwilling to offer employer matches for their 403b pan because if they do, they must comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulations, which protect employees. A 401k is more likely to offer employer-matching contributions since they must follow ERISA regulations.
  • In 2021, the annual income limit to participate in the 403b is $290,000.
  • Some employers may sponsor investment plans with a low expense ratio without considering their employees' investment returns and options.


What is a 403b plan?

A 403b plan is a retirement plan designed for employees in nonprofit organizations and government workers in public institutions such as hospitals, the police, fire service, public schools, religious organizations, etc.

Is the 403b good for me?

If you're eligible for a 403b plan, saving for retirement is a great decision, especially if your employer offers matching contributions. But situations differ between people. If you have a more urgent need for the money now, you might want to sort that out first before investing.

How much should I contribute to my 403b?

Contribute as much as you can. If you can meet the maximum contribution without any financial strain to your living standard, do it. It's a great way to help yourself retire early. Many people get placed on a default savings rate of around 5% of their base salary, but double-digit savings may be the best option for a well-funded retirement. Use the 403b calculator to evaluate different scenarios and growth rates for your retirement savings.

What is the difference between 401k and 403b?

The main difference between 401k plans and 403b plans is that 401k plans are sponsored by private organizations and therefore available for employees in for-profit organizations. In contrast, 403b's are sponsored by qualified nonprofit organizations and governments for their workers. Other differences apply to how much you can contribute and the investment options available.

Does 403b count in the calculation of Roth conversion?

Yes, the 403b counts towards a Roth conversion if you're rolling into a Roth.

Is a 403b an IRA?

No, the 403b plan is not an IRA. Although they both offer tax benefits towards retirement savings, they have different rules and contribution limits. Also, 403b plans are sponsored by your employer, while you can set up IRA yourself.

Is 403b pretax?

Yes, 403b contributions are pretax. However, some 403b accounts offer a Roth 403b option for you to make after-tax contributions. Use the 403b calculator to estimate the growth potential of your contributions.

403b calculator disclaimer

You should consider the 403b calculator as a model for financial approximation. All payment figures, balances, and interest figures are estimates based on the data you provided in the specifications that are not exhaustive despite our best effort.

For this reason, we created the calculator for instructional purposes only. Still, if you experience a relevant drawback or encounter any inaccuracy, we are always pleased to receive useful feedback and advice.

Tibor Pál, PhD candidate and Oghenekaro Elem
What would you like to know?
Final 403(b) balance
403(b) Employee savings plan
Your salary
Contribution percentage
Annual contribution
Contribution starts at the age of
Planned age of retirement
Current 403(b) balance
Annual rate of return
Aimed final balance
Final payout on...
Annual salary increase
403(b) Employer contribution
Contribution percentage
Annual contribution
Total annual contribution
chart of balances
Show me...
periodic schedule
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