Credential Files

Credential File Forms
You can download credential file forms here

The Career Development Center (CDC) credential file policies and fees are subject to change without notice. If you have an question or concerns not addressed below, please contact the CDC at (518) 564-2071 or send e-mails to credentials@plattsburgh.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions About Credential Files

What Is a Credential File?

  • Answer: A credential file contains only letters of references to support your job search efforts and graduate school application. References from employers, faculty and staff are appropriate for your file.

(Return to top)

How Do I Open a Credential File?

  • Answer: A credential file may be opened at the Career Development Center by filling out a Legal Consent Form AND paying an activation fee of $20. This fee will allow current students to mail their file to five (5) destinations prior to graduation. No references can or will be forwarded on your behalf unless this form is on file. Files are only maintained for Plattsburgh State students and alumni.

(Return to top)

How Do I Request a Letter of Reference?

  • Answer : You should request references faculty or staff, employers, or from supervising teachers; when possible, this should be done in person. The Career Development Center has blank forms that can be used. The Career Development Center has blank forms that can be used, but they are not required.  Every reference in your file must be an original document with an original signature.

(Return to top)

Tips for Requesting a Letter of Reference

  • Answer: The first step to building a strong credential file is to make yourself visible: contribute in meetings and class, get involved in a variety of activities and groups, and allow people to get to know you. A good reference is more likely to come from someone who knows you on a variety of levels. Credentials can be obtained from a variety of sources: professors, advisors, employers, business associates, and well-respected figures in the community. As time passes and you gain more experience, some of the letters in your file may be phased out by more current and relevant letters. Following these guidelines should assist you in obtaining supportive letters of reference:

    • ASK. Always ask the possible reference if he/she would feel comfortable writing a supportive letter of reference for you.
    • PROVIDE BACKGROUND INFORMATION. Once you have asked, provide the author with background information about yourself; a resume is always helpful and some will like to see a transcript also. Be prepared with copies.
    • DISCUSS.  It is preferred to discuss the letter with person writing it in person.  Inform him/her of any points you would like to convey in particular.  Ask him/her to use as many specific examples as possible.
    • COMPLETE FORMS. If you are using a form, make sure the form is completed before you bring it to your reference. Fill in ALL of the information needed, paying special attention to the confidentiality clause.
    • PROVIDE ENVELOPES. If you would like the letter returned to the Career Development Center, include an envelope stamped, if necessary, with the address of the center. If you prefer to pick the reference up in person, include an envelope with the words "Reference for YOUR NAME ."
    • SUPPLY A TIMELINE. If you have deadlines to meet, provided they are not reasonable (generally, two weeks or more), provide them to the author in writing.
    • ALWAYS SEND A THANK YOU NOTE. Authors of your letters have taken the time to provide you with a service. It is not only proper etiquette to thank them, and it will keep your relationship current.

(Return to top)

What Is the Difference Between the Reference Forms?

  • Letter of Reference: This form is designed for the author to write a narrative letter about your abilities. Letters should be professionally prepared and attractive to the reader.
  • Student Teaching Appraisal: This form is designed for Education majors involved in student teaching (Block II or III). It should only be given to cooperating and supervising teachers from one's student teaching experience.
  • Reference Sheet: This form is suitable for any major and can be used when the author of the letter may not know you well enough to write a narrative letter.
  • In addition to the pre-printed forms available from our office, students may also solicit references from individuals on the letterhead of the person or their organization. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, references of this kind are non-confidential.) TO OBTAIN COPIES OF THESE FORMS CONTACT OR VISIT THE CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER.

(Return to top)

What Is the Difference Between Confidential and Non-Confidential?

  • Answer: Near the top of each pre-printed letter of reference form, you will notice a statement beginning, "Note to the student and to the evaluator..." This statement explains your legal right to read the contents of a reference after it has been returned to the Career Development Center. You must choose either confidential or non-confidential for each reference AND sign your name. FAILURE TO SIGN YOUR NAME WILL RENDER THE REFERENCE NON-CONFIDENTIAL. A confidential reference is a letter that you will not have access to under any circumstances. A potential employer may view a confidential reference as a more candid evaluation, in that you trust the person writing the reference to accurately evaluate your abilities. The Career Development Center staff CANNOT discuss the specific content of a confidential letter with you.
  • A non-confidential reference is one that you may read. Also, you may obtain ONE personal copy of non-confidential letters at any time.

(Return to top)

How Many References Should I Keep In My File?

  • Answer: We consider three (3) as the minimum number, but keep in mind; we will mail no more than seven (7) letters at one time. We suggest at least two to be written by past or current professors and that one be written by a past or current employer. Certainly you may have more than three references in your file if you wish, but be careful not to crowd your file with redundant statements, as this can be "overkill" to those who read them. You should update your file regularly with current and applicable references. You may add new letters and remove dated letters from your file at any time. It is the responsibility of students and alumni to verify that requested references have been received by the Career Development Center.

(Return to top)

How Do I Send Out My References?

  • Answer: Credential requests must be made in writing via mail, e-mail, fax, or in person. Be sure to include the name, title, and address of the party to whom copies of your references should be sent; list the references you wish to be included in the mailing; and method of payment for the services. The Career Development Center is not permitted to send references for students or alumni who have not pre-paid for the service. Pre-payment can be in the form of cash, check, or credit card. The Career Development Center accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. Legally, the Career Development Center cannot release copies of confidential references to the student/alum under any circumstances. ALL CONFIDENTIAL LETTERS MUST BE SENT DIRECTLY TO THE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER OR GRADUATE SCHOOL.
  • Legally, a credential file can be released to a third party only after written authorization to release the file is received by the Career Development Center. This written release may be in the form of a signed letter or request, a fax of a signed letter or request, or a printed e-mail (displaying the sender's e-mail address). Authorizations for release should contain the party or parties to whom the file should be sent and the means of payment. Requests will be kept on file in the Career Development Center for the duration of the semester in which they are received.

(Return to top)

What Does It Cost to Send Out My References?

  • Answer: The $20 activation fee entitles CURRENT undergraduate and graduate students up to five (5) mailings prior to graduation (grace period:  Feb. 1st for Dec. grads and July 1st for May grads). After graduation or using the five (5) mailings, whichever occurs first, there is a $5 charge for each additional set of references sent. You may choose a $40 fee, which entitles you to make 10 credential requests, or a $60 fee, which entitles you to make 20 credential requests within one year from the date of payment. This fee period expires after the purchased number (10 or 20) of requests has been made or one year has elapsed from the date of purchase. All paid fees are non-refundable. Pre-payment can be in the form of cash, check, or credit card.  you can make your check payble to:  SUNY Plattsburgh.  The Career Development Center accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.  In addition to your credit card number, we also need the last 3 digits on the back of your card and your billing zip code.
    • PAY $5.00 - YOU GET 1 MAILING - YOU SAVE $0.00
    • PAY $40.00 - YOU GET 10 MAILINGS - YOU SAVE $10.00
    • PAY $60.00 - YOU GET 20 MAILINGS - YOU SAVE $40.00

(Return to top)

What Happens to the File When I Graduate?

  • Answer: Your reference file will be kept on file for 20 years from your date of graduation.  They will then be destroyed due to storage limitations.  Your credential file may be updated after you graduate.  New materials may be added at any time.  Old or irrelevant materials should be purged on a regular basis and should be replaced by more current references. (Return to top)

Contact Information

To learn more about the Career Development Center at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:


Career Development Center
118 Angell College Center (ACC)
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901

Phone (518) 564-2071
Fax (518) 564-5080