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What you'll pay

Find out how much you’ll pay – and what you’ll build up

What you’ll put in

You’ll pay 9.8% of your salary into USS – but the cost to your take-home pay may be less. This is because you get tax relief on your pension contributions. For more on tax relief visit a pensions overview or watch an overview of pension tax.

Your employer will pay in 21.6%* towards your benefits and running USS.

You can estimate the monthly cost to you based on your annual salary using our Benefit Illustrator. Just visit the future cost to you tab. You’ll see how much you’ll save in tax each month too.

*Contribution rate for the next two years, until April 2024 when it will fall to 21.4%.This contribution rate is subject to the outcome of future valuations.

How tax affects the cost of your monthly contributions

Annual salary The contribution taken from your pay before tax The impact of your contribution on your take-home pay* (due to tax savings)

Some useful examples

We've come up with a couple of examples* to give you an idea of how much you could build up depending on your salary.

You can also watch our How you build benefits in the Retirement Income Builder video to see how your benefits build up.

What's built up may seem small at first, but it'll build up in the long run. And it'll go up with inflation too. Plus you'll also be getting tax relief on your contributions.

Person illustration

Say hello to Neil, the Researcher

Neil has an annual salary of £30,000 and he's a basic rate tax payer.

He's building a pension in the Retirement Income Builder. His pay (before tax) will be reduced by £245 a month – but due to tax relief it’ll only cost Neil £196 a month.

Every year, his and his employer’s contributions build up 1/85 of his salary as pension savings as follows:


After paying into USS for one year, Neil is guaranteed to receive an income of £352.94 a year for life from the Normal Pension Age (NPA) – and build up a £1,058.82 tax-free lump sum to take when he retires.

Person illustration

Let's meet Sarah, the Professor

Sarah’s annual salary is £70,000, so she’s a higher rate tax payer. She earns over the salary threshold so she’s saving in to the Investment Builder too. Her pay (before tax) will be reduced by £571.67 a month – but due to tax relief it’ll only cost Sarah £343 a month.

What’s built up in the Retirement Income Builder

Every year, Sarah’s and her employer’s contributions build up 1/85 of her salary as pension savings as follows:

Fraction 2 

After paying into USS for one year, Sarah is guaranteed to receive an income of £470.59 a year for life from the Normal Pension Age (NPA) – and build up a £1,411.77 tax-free lump sum to take when she retires.

What's being saved in the Investment Builder

As Sarah is earning over the salary threshold, she’ll also build up the following in the Investment Builder too:


Sarah saves up £6,000 each year – this can go up or down depending on how her investments perform.

*These are approximate figures based on tax in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The cost may be different depending on a number of reasons, including if you pay tax in Scotland or pay your pension contributions via salary sacrifice.
**The 2022/2023 salary threshold is £40,000.
These figures are based on one year's active membership with USS.

Save even more

Even if you don’t earn over the salary threshold, you can still save a bit extra by making additional contributions to the Investment Builder. Just remember, your investments could go up or down – it all depends on how your investments perform.

To start making additional contributions, head over to My USS or take a look at our Additional Contributions Modeller. This will estimate how much your additional contributions to the Investment Builder could provide as a savings pot when you come to take them..

What is salary sacrifice?

If your employer offers salary sacrifice, you can agree to give up the part of your salary that you would pay towards your pension, and your employer will pay your contributions for you. Then, you (and your employer) could pay lower National Insurance contributions.

However, there are reasons why this may not be right for you. For example, if you’re with USS for less than two years, and you use salary sacrifice, you’ll still be able to choose to keep pension benefits in USS or transfer them to another scheme, but you won’t have the option to get a refund of contributions when you leave. It may also affect the amount you’re eligible to borrow, if you’re looking for a mortgage or other finance. You should speak to your employer for more details.

Please speak to your employer to find out if they offer salary sacrifice.

Need some advice or guidance

MoneyHelper brings three legacy consumer brands into one (Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise). MoneyHelper is there to make your money and pension choices clearer. They offer impartial guidance that's backed by the government and free to use. MoneyHelper is available at

If you want to seek guidance or take financial advice on your options, visit the guidance and financial advice page. You’ll find a range of resources to support your planning and can sign up to our guidance webinars too.

Got a question?