University at Albany

Reference Files

Reference Files can be established, for a non-refundable $35 fee (check or money order ONLY made payable to the University at Albany ), to house Reference Letters only for University at Albany students or alumni for the following reasons:

  • application requests for K-12 or university administrative and teaching positions
  • candidates seeking entrance into graduate or professional school programs.

To establish a reference file you must complete and return the following to the Career Services office;

These materials are available at the Career Services office. The reference form is also available online as a .pdf file.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I send references from my file?
  • How long can I maintain a Reference File?
  • Are there guidelines for writing a reference letter?
  • Are there any guidelines for students about asking for references

Basic information for setting up a reference file can also be downloaded here

Permanent Record Card
This is for internal office use to establish your File. Please provide ALL requested information and return the Permanent Record Card to Career Services. If you change your permanent address, please notify us of the change in writing.

Signed Waiver Form
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, (P.L. 93-380) specifies that you have the right to see anything in any file an educational institution has maintained on you unless you choose to waive that right in writing in regard to that particular material. Whatever choice you make, both the reference writer and reader must know whether or not you have waived your right to access. When requesting letters of reference, it is necessary for you to first sign each form and indicate your choice on it. Letters in your File must be all confidential or all non-confidential; you may not have a mixed File. To establish a Reference File, Career Services must have a completed Waiver Form indicating your choice.

Reference Forms
You are fully responsible for requesting all references and for assuring that these references are sent to Career Services. Three to five letters of reference are suggested for your Reference File. There is a limit of 8 letters. Letters may be added to your active File at any time. Sign and date each Reference Letter Form and indicate whether or not you waive your right to read the reference. The reference letter must be written on the form provided by Career Services or on the writer's letterhead with the Reference Letter Form attached. By law, all reference letters must have our form attached with your authorization for confidentiality or non-confidentiality, and the writer's signature. The Reference Letter Form can be downloaded here. Reference writers must mail letters directly to Career Services.

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Sending Your File
Send a copy only when you are sure it is required. Do not request that your Reference File be sent to a graduate school until after you have submitted your application - only then will that school have established a file for you.

How: Requests will be accepted by mail, fax, or in person (please note we cannot accept requests via e-mail as we must have your signature), and must indicate exactly which letters of reference you want mailed in each instance. If you request your "entire file," only the information contained in the File at the time of the request will be sent. It is your responsibility to know which letters have and have not been received by Career Services. When making a request, provide the name and/or title of the person to whom the File must be directed and the precise full address.

How much: An initial non-refundable fee of $35.00 will be charged to establish your file. You will then receive your first five mailings free. After that, a fee of $7.00 will be charged each time your Reference File is sent -- this includes copies sent to another department on the UAlbany campus. We accept only checks or money orders made payable to the University at Albany.

Mailing timeline policy: From the date your request is received in Career Services, please allow two to five business days to complete your request. To maintain the confidentiality of your references, we will not provide you with sealed copies of your File to hand deliver. Please plan accordingly.

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Maintaining Your File
This office does NOT retain reference letters indefinitely. Make sure your File is complete and up-to-date (outdated letters may not be regarded as highly as current letters).  Check periodically on the status of your File.  After references have been added to your File, you may wish to have outdated material held from future mailings.  Keep us informed of your most recent address and phone number.

It is important to understand that your reference file will be maintained for five (5) years from the date of establishment, or the last date of activity (addition of new letters or more recent mailing requests).  If there is no activity for five (5) years, your file will be destroyed unless you specifically request in writing that your file be maintained and pay the current nonrefundable reactivation fee.

Guidelines for Reference Writers
To assist those writing letters of recommendation for you, we have published guidelines developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). For a copy of those guidelines, please refer your reference writers to this website.

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Guidelines for Students & Alumni
Prospective employers and admission committees review reference letters to gain insight into your academic performance, work related skills and personal character. These letters should support your resume and objective and "fill out the picture" of who you are. It is not surprising, then, that you need to choose your reference letter writers carefully. Faculty members and former employers who can attest to your academic and professional competence are most appropriate, while character references, such as your priest or minister or family doctor, are not.

  1. Complete the top portion of the reference form by typing or neatly printing your name. Also, indicate whether or not you waive your right to review the reference letter, then sign your name. This should be done before you give the reference form to the person writing your reference. Please note: Confidential references will not be shown to candidates.
  2. Request reference letters from people who can discuss your work ethic, accomplishments, leadership, communication, and teamwork abilities.
  3. Arrange a meeting with your reference writer to share your goals, employment objectives, or educational plans. Always provide the reference letter writer with a copy of your resume. For those reference letter writers who are not on campus or with whom a meeting is impossible, put your request in writing, even if you have already spoken with them. Provide the reference letter writer with a stamped envelope addressed to Career Services
  4. Give reference letter writers plenty of time to compose the letters. If they are not completed within a reasonable amount of time, feel free to call to remind them of your request. Send a brief letter of thanks to the writer when the letter is completed.
  5. If you want a personal copy of your reference letter, request it from the writer before it is submitted to the Career Services. Once a letter is received by our office, it is considered college property and may not be released without the written permission of the writer.
  6. You should request faculty recommendationswhen you complete a course or a research project. If you wait until later, the faculty member may not be available or may not remember hwo well you did in class.
  7. Check with Career Services to be sure that all of your references have arrived. We recommend that you get three to five letters of recommendation.
  8. Do not wait until graduation to get appropriate letters of reference. A decision to hire or accept you may be delayed if your references are not available for employer review or graduate admissions committees.

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