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Cornell University

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation

The HCEC combines a minimum of two and a maximum of three Letters of Recommendation (LORs) with the Letter of Evaluation (LOE) to create the HCEC Letter, also known as a Committee Letter. The LOE often references and/or quotes directly from the attached LORs.

A strong LOR provides a unique personal and experiential perspective of the applicant that complements and affirms the comprehensive narrative presented by the HCEC. It is essential that medical and dental school applicants obtain strong supportive LORs, because they comprise an important component of the HCEC Letter and contribute significantly to medical and dental school admissions decisions.

Whom to Ask for an LOR

For guidance with selecting a letter writer, advice on requesting an LOR, and making a decision regarding FERPA rights of access to your letters, review the HCA-APP Canvas course, provided by Health Careers Advising.

The HCEC LOR Process: Step by Step

For each LOR, download the LOR Guidelines and FERPA Intent Form. Enter the name of your letter writer on the first page, and fill out page two entirely. Be sure to include the letter writer contact information, and indicate your FERPA intent in the appropriate checkbox. If you wish to waive your FERPA rights to the LOR, your signature is required.
Send the completed LOR Guidelines and FERPA Intent Form to your letter writer along with an appropriately professional, respectful email or letter. Inform the letter writer that the attached document contains submission instructions, as well as your FERPA intent, and ask them to send this form to HCEC along with their letter. It is important that your letter writer know the FERPA status of their letter. Do not send your letter writer a blank or partially completed FERPA Intent Form.Add the letter writer contact information for each anticipated letter to the LORs Form page in your HCEC Checklist. The HCEC posts the date of receipt and the FERPA status of each LOR to this page within three business days of receiving the letter.

Changing the FERPA Status of an LOR

You may confirm the FERPA status of an LOR on file with the HCEC at the LORs Form page in your HCEC Checklist. The FERPA status of LORs that arrive without a FERPA waiver form, or an incomplete or unsigned form, will be considered Retained.

If you wish to waive your right of access to an LOR, you may submit a completed, signed FERPA Intent Form, one for each LOR, directly to the HCEC. Please allow three business days for this change to be reflected in your HCEC Checklist. Once an LOR has been received by the HCEC, you may not change the FERPA status from waived to retained. 

LOR Rules

The HCEC requires at least two LORs, one from a Cornell-affiliated letter writer, and allows a maximum of three LORs. HCEC registrants wishing to provide more than three LORs in support of their applications must decide which three will be sent to the HCEC, and then arrange to have any additional letters sent directly to the application service. If you intend to use more than three LORs in support of your application, we strongly encourage you to seek guidance from a Health Careers Advisor about which LORs to have sent to the HCEC.

Please note that the HCEC adheres to a strict policy of using the first three LORs received, and will not substitute LORs nor forward individual letters for any purpose. An exception to the three LOR maximum rule is made for some HCEC registrants who are resuming their registration from an earlier application cycle with three LORs are already on file. 

Guidance for Letter Writers

Please refer to the LOR Guidelines and FERPA Intent Form that was sent to you by the applicant. It contains guidance on content, format, and style, as well as instructions on sending the letter and form to the HCEC.

Sending a Letter to the HCEC: Three Ways

Writers With an Active Cornell NetID

We prefer to receive LORs from Cornell-affiliated writers through Cornell Secure File Transfer. Log in to, choose Prepare Upload, type "hcec_letters" in the To: box, click add, and upload your Word or PDF documents.

Writers Without a Cornell NetID

Letter writers without a Cornell NetID should request access to the HCEC Secure Guest Portal by emailing from their institutional email address. Please include the full name of the HCEC registrant, and do not attach the letter in the email. The HCEC will reply with an upload link, generally within one business day. Feel free to contact us at with questions.

By Postal Mail

The HCEC accepts paper documents sent to:
HCEC Records Coordinator
Cornell University
210 Barnes Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853