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Which is why I'm glad a lot of my money is in a 403b instead of a 401k. TIAA-CREF, at least, doesn't require the money to be paid back when you leave a job. And you can initiate a new loan after leaving the job.

It's not TIAA-CREF or the fact that you have a 403(b), rather than a 401(k) that allows you to pay back your loans after you leave employment. It's your employer and the way they set up the retirement plan.

I have had 1 401(k) that allowed loans to be paid back on the original amortization schedule after leaving employment. The rest of my 401(k) plans required repayment of the loan within a certain number of days, generally between 30 and 90. It's generally a cost issue, because once you leave employment, the former employer usually wants to minmize the costs for administering your account. By allowing you to make payments on a loan, your former employer will likely get charged more by the adminstrator to administer the account, since they are having to deal with your payment separately from all the other loan payments that are sent in from payroll.

Pretty much the only rules that are federally mandated about employer retirement plan loans are:
- Loans are an allowed feature of the plan, but not required to be offered
- Loans have to charge interest
- You can only borrow up to 50% of your vested balance or $50k, whichever is less
- The maximum length of the loan repayment period must be 5 years or less for most loans, 10 years or less for loans to purchase a home

Everything else is up to the employer. So before taking out a loan, everyone needs to be aware of the rules that their employer sets. If their employer requires repayment within a certain number of days after employment termination, then they need to have a contingency plan to be able to pay back the loan in case they are laid off or want to voluntarily change jobs.

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