Rutgers University Student Support Services Program

For some families, college is a given. But there are still plenty of Americans for whom a college education is a challenging, elusive goal. Helping both these families as well as first–generation college students accomplish their goals is the Student Support Services Program at Rutgers University in New Jersey. And an important by–product of that project is a valuable software program for documenting essential information for students and tutors — software built on the solid foundation of FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software application from FileMaker Inc.

Lending a Hand


  • The Rutgers University Student Support Services Program reaches out to community–based groups with a valuable data–management tool — helping to track and encourage the progress of students–at–risk.


  • Higher Education

Business Challenge

Funded by the U. S. Department of Higher Education Office of Post–Secondary Education, Higher Education Programs, the Rutgers Student Support Services Program provides eligible low–income, first–generation college students with a range of special workshops in vital subjects like developmental skills instruction, writing, and math. The students benefit from personal tutoring, computer education, academic counseling, and other services designed to help them get the most out of their college experience. Beginning in 1993, the office developed a database program used to document and track assignments for students, provide a record of tutor activity, and to generally collect and organize valuable administrative data.

Successful Solution

It wasn't yet a FileMaker Pro–based solution. That would come later — specifically, in 1999. That was the year Rutgers submitted a federal grant proposal to develop a similar software tool for use by partner organizations in New York City — the East Harlem Tutorial Program, Interfaith Neighbors, and the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, all organizations which share the Student Support Services' Program goal of helping at–risk–students to excel. "In the original proposal, the application was conceived as a Windows server–based application accessible only by machines running the Windows operating system," recalls project associate Earl Preston Thomas. "The decision to develop the application as a server–resident, web based system that operated through a web browser was made on the recommendation of the web software developer, Digital Fusion Inc."

FileMaker Pro was identified as the database of choice over applications such as Microsoft's Access because of FileMaker's unmatched user–friendliness, power, and flexibility — and cross platform versatility

— Earl Preston Thomas, Project Associate, Rutgers University Student Support Services

FileMaker Pro soon emerged as the driving force behind the tool, for reasons both practical and economic. "FileMaker Pro was identified as the database of choice over applications such as Microsoft's Access because of FileMaker's unmatched user–friendliness, power, and flexibility — and cross platform versatility," Earl explains. The Rutgers team turned to developer Nancy Fedder of Fedder Solutions to clone the basic data structure of the original Rutgers application — and to train the three partner organizations in the ins and outs of the software.

Customer Benefits

The result? A system that allows fast and easy organization and manipulation of essential data — and a system that will allow the participating organizations to provide more efficient service to their clients. "If agencies and organizations use the package correctly," Earl predicts, "they can increase their effectiveness and competitiveness."

And translated into real–world terms, that means students who might not otherwise have enjoyed the benefits of a college education will move forward to make their mark in the world — with just a little boost along the way from FileMaker Pro!

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.

For Rutgers University Student Support Services:

Earl Preston Thomas
Project Associate
Rutgers University Student Support Services
732-445-4001 x863
732-445-4001 x857

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