The Running Start
program in Washington
state allows high school
juniors and seniors to attend college
courses numbered 100 or above, tuition-free, while completing high school. It is similar to dual enrollment
programs common at public and private colleges and universities in other states. The program was piloted in the early 1990s and officially approved to begin in the fall of 1993.
Running Start provides up to two years of paid tuition at any state-run community college or four-year university. High school juniors who can pass the entrance exam for a local community college may take part or all of their coursework at the community college. Successfully passing a course earns a student both high school and college credit.
Running Start students complete a substantial number of their first two years of college credits early. After high school, they pay for fewer community college credits before moving on to four-year institutions. It is possible for a motivated student to earn his or her high school diploma and a two-year college associate's degree simultaneously.
The program’s popularity has resulted in significant demand. In 2006-07, 16,826 students participated in Running Start. Running Start students make up eight percent of all community and technical college full-time equivalent students (10,842 FTEs), and more than 18 percent of academic enrollments.
Tuition and fees
Students are responsible for fees, but the state pays students’ tuition for college level courses with these exceptions: courses numbered under 100, summer quarter classes, more than 18 credits per quarter, audited classes and continuing education classes. Fees may include books and supplies, testing fees and student activity fees.