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Running Start

Benefits of participating in Running Start

  • Students can register for up to 21 tuition-free college credits per quarter based on high school enrollment. (15 credits recommended per quarter)
  • Earn high school and college credit simultaneously.
  • With careful planning, students can earn an associate degree along with their high school diploma.
  • Experience the rigor of college-level coursework and increased personal responsibility.
  • Wide variety of classes and degree options.
  • Flexible class schedule (day, afternoon, evening, hybrid, and online course options).
  • Participate in college activities and leadership opportunities, with the exception of intercollegiate athletics.

Challenges of participating in Running Start

  • Running Start is not entirely free.
  • The average quarterly cost for a full-time Running Start student is approximately $200 in fees per quarter. Textbooks can range from $100-300+ per quarter. Fee Waivers for some costs are available for students that qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch. More information here.
  •  Classes move at a faster pace than high school; a yearlong high school course is condensed into an 11 week quarter.
  • Colleges often have a different break schedule than high school. Students are responsible for planning their schedules accordingly.
  • Parent/guardian access to student records is limited. The College must abide by strict privacy rules. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records without student written permission. We provide all Running Start students an opportunity to complete a Release of Information form.
  • College is an adult learning environment. Courses may cover controversial issues.
  • Students must arrange their own transportation to and from campus. (*Adapted from Green River College)


  • 11th or 12th grader enrolled in a public school
  • Acceptance into the community college and placement into English 101.
  • We highly recommend you have a GPA of at least 2.0 to participate in Running Start.

Your HS counselor’s role in the Running Start application process is to sign your Enrollment Verification Form. This is done after the college has confirmed that you are placed into English 101.

Steps to Enroll in Running Start

  1. Apply to the community college of your choice.
  2. You will receive your acceptance and an ID number within a few days.
  3. Place into college-level English by taking a placement test with your prospective college or provide your college with your transcript showing a GPA of a 3.0 or higher. Request your TBHS transcript here OR find it on StudentVUE under “Student Documents”
  4. Review the RS Student Agreement (attached above), sign with your parent/guardian, and email it to your counselor.
  5. In the email with your signed RS agreement, tell your counselor that you are ready for your EVF.
  6. We will complete your EVF and suggest which courses to take to fulfill graduation requirements. When we return it to you, submit your EVF, transcript, and any other needed documents to your prospective college.
  7. Await instructions from the college regarding orientation and scheduling. Your TBHS counselor will not be able to schedule classes for you at the college. Make sure to register for the full 15 credits at your college each quarter. You will need to communicate with your counselor every quarter to fill out the enrollment verification form (EVF) so you can register for classes.

Again, you should have completed the following before contacting your TBHS Counselor:

  1. Applied to a community college and have a student ID
  2. Placed into college-level English either by taking a placement test or sending them your transcript with a 3.0 or higher
  3. Reviewed and agreed (along with a parent/guardian) to the RS Scholar Agreement

If you have completed 1-3, you are ready to email your counselor.

*The colleges may require a variety of fees (testing, activity, technology and other fees), in addition to textbook purchases. Textbooks should be purchased prior to the first day of classes and are the responsibility of the student. For more information, contact the Running Start Coordinator at one of the colleges.

Running Start is a dual enrollment program, meaning you can attend a community college to earn college credit and high school credit at the same time. Most students are “Full-Time” Running Start students, meaning they take all their classes at the college. Some students are “Part-Time” Running Start students because they are taking Algebra 2 at TBHS and the rest of their courses at a community college.

Please reach out to your prospective college with questions regarding placement, online applications, orientation, etc. Each college’s Running Start website is a good source of information. Most of our students either attend Highline Community College or Green River Community College. Students can attend any college that participates in the program. If you are interested in either HCC, or GRCC, please click on one of the links below to get started before contacting your counselor.

Highline College

Green River Community College

Tacoma Community College

Bellevue College

Pierce College

Highline Community College Equivalency Guide