Local university refunded $9 million from state retirement program

MARQUETTE — An error has resulted in the return of a large sum of money to an Upper Peninsula university.

Officials from Northern Michigan University announced today that around $9 million in funds were returned to the school from the Michigan Public State Employees Retirement System. The return of the funds is due to an error in billings that occurred over nearly two decades.

According to the university, NMU is one of seven schools to be given money back from the MPSERS program. Between 1945 and 1956, Michigan colleges that were moving to university status were required by the state to participate in the program. While universities stopped participating in the program in 1996, payments to fund the pensions of participating employees have been required to continue since 1997.

The error was discovered while the Michigan Office of Retirement Services was updating its statements to comply with new Government Accounting Standards Board requirements.

Officials say the overpayment only involves university money and not funds contributed by employees to their pension accounts. The funds, which were returned on Tuesday, will be designated for future payments to NMU’s share of the MPSERS unfunded pension liability, which exceeds $40 million owed through 2036.

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