Credentials Q & A
The credential file is the official written reference file established and maintained by you and the Career Services Office to support your current and future employment. Recommendations from faculty, staff or employers are appropriate for your file. Recommendations on file reduce the burden on letter writers during your active career. Your file, when completed, will be forwarded to prospective employers at your written request or at the written request of the institution. Letters may be added to your permanent file at any time. A credential file must be kept up to date; when you change employment or career areas, current letters should be routinely submitted. All materials in your folder should be professionally prepared, typed, and attractive to the reader.
You do not have to come in to start a file. As soon as the first letter of recommendation arrives in the Credential Files Office, a file is started for you.
Fees are listed in right column
It does not cost anything to create your credential file or add letters to it.
Fees are incurred when sending letters to employers or outside services.
You may pay by cash or check made payable to "SUNY Cortland." At this time, we cannot accept credit card payments.
Up to five letters may be sent per mailing to employers for bachelor's and master's students
Up to eight letters may be sent per mailing to employers for CAS students
If you "retain" your right to access a letter, then the letter is non-confidential. That means that you can look at the letter at any time, and you can hand-deliver the letter to the credentials office. Public Law 93-380 allows access to references written on or after January 1, 1975, if you do not waive that right.
Non-confidential letters may be written on the letterhead of the organization or on the College Credentials letterhead with the statement retaining rights of access to the letter checked and the form signed by the student and the letter writer.
If you "waive" your right to access a letter, then the letter is confidential. That means that you have given up your right to look at the letter, and you cannot hand-deliver the letter to the credentials office. Once a confidential letter is placed in your file, we cannot allow you to see the letter. Confidential letters must be mailed in or delivered by the letter writer. Though some letter writers may choose to give you a copy of a confidential letter, we cannot.
Candidates requesting a confidential letter should use the SUNY Cortland Credentials Letterhead, with the waiver of rights to access the letter checked and the form signed by the student and the letter writer.
Some employers have stated that they would much rather see a confidential letter, while other employers do not have a preference. It is your decision whether or not to retain access to a letter, but once a decision is made, it cannot be undone. You may need to discuss your options with your letter writer in advance.
The recommendation does not need to be typed in the space on the SUNY Cortland Credentials Letterhead. If the form is filled out, it can be stapled to the top of the letter.
To send your file to an employer, you need to fill out a Credential Files Request Form. Please include the complete employer mailing address and zip code, along with your address, social security number, and phone number.
Credentials file requests must be made in person or in writing (fax or letter).
Requests by phone or email will not be honored.
Credential file requests are completed in order of arrival and will be processed within 72 hours of receipt, though they are often processed within 24-48 hours. In general, files will reach employers within a week, but depending on mail delivery and processing time, it may be more or less. Faxed and in person requests will reach our office sooner than mailed requests, and is therefore a way to shorten delivery time.
The credential file remains in our office for 10 years after the last time it is used. If you add a letter or request a transaction any time within that 10 years, it will stay open for 10 more years. For example, if you created a file in 2000 and never used it, it would be available until 2010, but if you added a new letter in 2005, your file would then be available until 2015. After 10 years of inactivity, a file is destroyed, unless you request it to stay available.
The Registrar's Office has historically handled transcript requests, and as a result, all official transcripts must be requested through their office. You may view unofficial transcripts and order official transcripts through SUNY Cortland Banner Web at http://myreddragon.cortland.edu/.
Resumes are not held in the credential file because resumes are frequently changed and should be tailored to each specific job or application.
You may check your letters over the phone by calling (607) 753-2160, or you may check in person in the Credentials Office, B-4 Van Hoesen Hall. Letters may not be checked through email.
Though you can only send out a maximum of five letters in a mailing (eight for CAS), it is recommended that you have enough good letters to accurately gauge your ability as a potential employee, grad student, etc.
For some students, three letters may be sufficient, but if you may be applying for positions in different fields or have letters that address different things about you that may be important for various employers to see, you may have many more letters.
You are able to put in as many letters as you believe are necessary.
It is important to make sure that the letters you want to send are in the file before you send it out to employers. You will need to check the file in person or over the phone to see if letters you were expecting have arrived in the office. Do not assume that because you have asked someone to write a letter, they have done so.
If you are missing a letter, you should contact the letter writer to see if he or she has sent the letter. Be sure to give your letter writers enough time to write the letter, but if they have not completed the letter within a reasonable time or there are doubts about whether or not the writer will complete the recommendation, you may want to consider finding another letter writer.
CAS Students & Graduates:
- $40 for 20 mailings or 1 year, whichever comes first
- or $5 per individual mailing
Student/Alumni Outside Service
- $40 to upload entire file to outside distribution service
- $5 per letter after original upload
- $60 for 20 mailings or 1 year, whichever comes first
- or $10 per individual mailing
CAS Student/Alumni Outside Service
- $60 to upload entire file to outside distribution service
- $5 per letter after original upload
*Note, there is no fee to create a file, fees are incurred as letters are sent