FBI Clearance Instructions

Instructions for obtaining FBI Criminal History Records

Pennsylvania Department of Education

Federal Criminal History Background Checks (Fingerprints) ACT 114

EFFECTIVE MARCH 19, 2012, THE FEE CHARGED FOR FEDERAL (FBI) CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECKS WAS REDUCED TO $28.75. (All applicants will now receive an unofficial copy of their report).

Federal Criminal History Background Checks required by Act 114 of 2006, 24 PS 1-111 as amended (Act 61 of 2008)




FEBRUARY 1, 2012 (Updated)

SUBJECT: Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) – FBI REPORT


As of April 1, 2007, Act 114 of 2006 has required that ALL prospective employees of public and private schools, including their independent contractors and their employees, but excluding employees who do not have direct contact with students, undergo background checks. Applicants are required to submit their background check reports to their prospective public and private school employers. The law also requires student teachers to undergo background checks and present their reports to their higher education institution prior to field experience.
There are three required background checks for ALL applicants:

· State Police Criminal History Record Act 34 Background Checks

· Dept of Public Welfare Child Abuse Report Act 151 [Child Abuse] Background Checks

· Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) – Act 114 [FBI Report]

ALL public and private schools are required to review the background check reports, including the federal criminal history record information (CHRI) reports of all prospective employees and independent contractors who will have contact with children. The higher education institution administrator is responsible for reviewing the reports of prospective student teachers. The school/higher education administrator must make a determination regarding the fitness of the individual to work in a position where he or she will have contact with children. The review and fitness determination is required PRIOR to the applicant working in a school.

*The PA State Police report has been required for applicants for school employment since 1986.

**Prior to April 1, 2007, the Federal Criminal History Report was only required in PA schools for out-of-state applicants. The CHRI is the result of an FBI fingerprint-based background check. Act 114 requires the report to be reviewed in a manner prescribed by PDE.

Process for Obtaining Federal CHRI - FBI Report

Following is a summary of the process for fingerprinting and obtaining the Federal Criminal History Report. This summary is not intended to replace the law (view law from link - 24 PS 1-111 AS AMENDED).PDE will continue to update the website with information on the process, including FAQ’s.

Sections contained in this document:

- Implementation - School Entity Procedures

- General Requirements - Student Teachers and Universities

- Applicant Procedures - School Contractor Procedures

- Agency Billing (ABID) - Other Entities

- Unofficial Report (Applicant copy) - Provisional Hire

- Fingerprint Processing and Storage - Group Fingerprinting

- Fingerprint Correction and Resubmission - Security

- Obtaining a Username and Password - Where to Find Help


3M Cogent manages the fingerprinting process for the Department of Education. This includes hosting a website, staffing a help desk, and establishing fixed sites for the taking of and transmitting of applicants’ fingerprints. These services became operational on March 30, 2007. During the first year of this requirement, over 170,000 individuals were fingerprinted and obtained federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) reports from the FBI. During the first twenty months of the operation of this program, the FBI mailed paper copies of the reports to PDE; PDE mailed the reports to the applicants. Given the high volume of reports and the need to improve the process, PDE requested that 3M Cogent develop a process that could be managed entirely online. This change expedites the process and efficiently handles the high volume of federal criminal background checks requested each month. The electronic system is designed to make reports available within two days and enables school administrators to review the reports online. This new process has been in place since December 1, 2008 and is described in this document.


The Act requires that all of the following individuals who will have direct contact with children (as defined in 22 Pa. Code § 8.1) provide to their prospective employer a copy of their Federal Criminal History Record, PA State Police Report and DPW Child Abuse Report that cannot be more than one (1) year old at the time of hire.

 · student teachers (participating in classroom teaching, internships, clinical or field experience),

 · prospective employees of public and private schools, Intermediate Units and Area Vocational-Technical Schools (including,but not limited to: administrators, teachers, substitutes, custodians, cafeteria workers and office employees), and

  · independent contractors and their employees (including, but not limited to: bus drivers, PIAA Sports Officials, and construction workers).

Prospective employees/student teacher candidates/contractors and their employees, hereafter referred to collectively as applicant, are to submit with their employment application State and Federal criminal history reports (for the Federal Criminal History Report the applicant is to submit their Registration ID) or a copy of the completed form/request. Criminal history reports (results of background checks) shall be no more than one year old at the time of hire.

Administrators shall require each applicant to produce the original criminal history reports prior to employment or follow appropriate procedures to employ applicants on a provisional basis, until the report is received and reviewed. Student teacher candidates are to submit their criminal history reports to the administrator of the educator preparation program prior to participation in any classroom teaching, internship, or clinical or field experience.

Provided all conditions listed in the Law are met, when the applicant provides a copy of the completed registration form to the administrator, the administrator may employ applicants on a provisional basis for a single period not to exceed 90 days (see the PROVISIONAL HIRE section)

An administrator or other person responsible for employment decisions in a school or other institution under this section who willfully fails to comply with the provisions of this section commits a violation of this Act and shall be subject to civil penalty. A civil penalty shall not exceed $2,500. Procedures that will be followed by staff of the School Services Unit when investigating alleged violations of 24 PS 1-111 are contained in Basic Education Circular 24 PS 1-111 Violations of Background Checks (link).


Fee: $28.75; All applicants will now receive an unofficial copy of their report. Fee is payable to 3M Cogent.

The fingerprint-based background check is a multiple-step process, as follows:

1. Registration - The applicant must register prior to going to the fingerprint site. Walk in service without prior registration will not be provided at any fingerprinting location. Registration is completed online or over the phone. Registration is available online 24 hours/day, seven days per week at www.pa.cogentid.com. Telephonic registration is available at 1-888-439-2486 Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm EST. During the registration process, all demographic data for the applicant is collected (name, address, SSN, etc.); there is no data entry required or allowed at the fingerprint collection site. Any corrections to this data must be made prior to being fingerprinted.

2. Payment - The applicant will pay a fee of $28.75 for the fingerprint service and to secure an unofficial copy of the Criminal History Record. Applicants may make their payment online using a credit card or debit card during the registration process. Money orders or cashiers checks payable to 3M Cogent will be accepted on site for those applicants who do not have the means to pay electronically. No cash transactions or personal checks are allowed.

  3M Cogent has also established an agency billing procedure for fingerprinting services from an appropriate requesting agency that is willing to pay the applicant’s fee. Billing may only occur after the requesting agency has completed the 3M Cogent Agency Pay Agreement. To establish a billing account, visit the website www.pa.cogentid.com and download an application. The billing account must be established prior to sending applicants to the fingerprint site.

3. Fingerprint Locations – After registration, the applicant proceeds to the fingerprint site of their choice for fingerprinting. 3M Cogent has established over 80 sites across the Commonwealth. The location of the fingerprint sites and days and hours of operation for each site are posted on 3M Cogent's website at www.pa.cogentid.com. The location of fingerprint sites may change over time; applicants are encouraged to confirm the site location nearest to their location. PDE encourages entities where access to the fingerprint location is more than 20 miles away to contact 3M Cogent and suggest areas where another closer site could be established.

4. Fingerprinting - At the fingerprint site the Applicant Livescan Operators (ALO) manage the fingerprint collection process. The fingerprint transaction begins when the ALO reviews the applicant’s qualified State or Federal photo ID before processing the applicant’s transaction. A list of approved ID type may be found on the 3M Cogent website at www.pa.cogentid.com. Applicants will not be processed if they cannot produce an acceptable photo ID. After the identity of the applicant has been established, all ten fingers are scanned to complete the process. The entire fingerprint capture process should take no more than three to five minutes.

5. Report Access – To begin the registration process, applicants check a box to confirm that school entities are authorized to review their official report electronically. For the public or private school or higher education institution to access the official report via the electronic system, applicants must present their Registration ID to the hiring entity. This process allows an applicant to provide multiple potential employers with their Registration ID, as the report is linked to the Registration ID number and not assigned to a specific school. To retrieve this personalized number, applicants can return to the Cogent registration website and select “Proof of Transaction (Receipts)”. Applicants will enter their personal information in the lower portion of that screen to obtain their receipt with the Registration ID at the top.

School entities are not permitted to print a copy of an applicant’s report for the applicant’s personal referencThe applicant may share the paper copy of the CHRI with prospective employers. However, the school is required to review the official CHRI online and print a file copy of the CHRI if the applicant is hired by the school or their contractor, or if the applicant is approved for student teaching. e. Applicants will receive a paper copy of their CHRI report. The paper copy will not be regarded as the official report; but, it will provide an applicant with a copy of the information that the school administrator will see when the report is reviewed.


 The applicant’s scanned fingerprints and registration information will be electronically transmitted by 3M Cogent via Cogent’s approved channeling process directly to the FBI. The fingerprints are run against the FBI database, and the report is sent directly from the FBI back to 3M Cogent. 3M Cogent maintains the reports for one year from the date of the report on a secure server (accessible by school entities). After one year, the reports are destroyed. Neither PDE or the FBI or 3M Cogent stores an applicant’s fingerprints. If an applicant is required to obtain a new report, the applicant must be fingerprinted again in order to obtain the report.

 The unofficial paper copy of an applicant's report will be maintained by 3M Cogent for 30 days from their original mailing date. After 30 days, the copy will no longer be accessible. An applicant who does not recall having received the unofficial copy should contact 3M Cogent within 30 days of their fingerprint date, before the storage limitation time has been reached.


In some cases, a classifiable fingerprint record cannot be obtained. Immediately upon indication, 3M Cogent will take corrective action to notify the applicant of the need to re-print the applicant at no cost to the applicant. This corrective action will be completed at the earliest possible time that is convenient for the applicant. 3M Cogent will contact the applicant directly via mail should a re-print be necessary. NOTE: Reprinting can be applied to each applicant one time only.

If the applicant’s fingerprints are unable to be transmitted electronically by 3M Cogent to the FBI a second time, the applicant will be notified that a “name check” process will be instituted. The name check is a manual review of records completed by the FBI, with the results being sent to PDE. Upon receipt of name check results from the FBI, PDE mails a letter directly to the applicant. The letter contains the applicant’s name check results and may be presented to schools in lieu of the electronic report. This process takes 4 – 6 weeks; please allow ample time for fingerprinting.

 Fingerprint sites in Centre County are located at:

PSU Police Services Center
Eisenhower Parking Deck
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-1111

The UPS Store
210 West Hamilton Ave.
State College, PA 16801
(814) 237-2552

For additional fingerprint sites, please access the link below:
Cogent Fingerprint Locations in PA