The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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Running Start program slightly modified

Due to budget cuts, the Washington State Legislature has made changes to the Running Start program by minimizing the number of credits that will be tuition-free for students on July 26, 2011.  It also limits the number of classes a student can take at the high school while taking a certain number of credits at the college.

In 1993, the Legislature passed a law that allowed high school juniors and seniors to take up to 18 credited college courses numbered 100 or above, tuition-free while simultaneously completing high school.

The Running Start program provides up to two years of paid tuition at any state-run community college that participates in the program. High school juniors and seniors must pass the community college’s entrance exam to be allowed to take the college level courses.

The first major change is how many credits will be “tuition-free.” Before July 26, the state paid for up to 18 college credits and anything over than 18 credits was to be paid for by the student. However, starting this fall, only 15 credits will be tuition-free. Even though this change may not be such a big deal, it can be for those students who had enrolled in more than 15 credits and will have to pay about $96.39 per credit after the 15 credits limit.

The second major change is that the state will limit the combined enrollment of a Running Start student between their high school and college schedule. In previous years, a Running Start student was able to be full-time students at their high school and take up to 18 tuition-free credits at a community college. Now, a Running Start student will be limited to the number of classes they can take at their high school and college.

For example, a full time high school student can only take a two-credit class at the college tuition-free. The official chart of how many classes can be taken at the high school and college is on the Washington State Running Start Enrollment Form.

Many students received a letter this summer giving them two choices if they were going to take more than 15 credits this fall. They could either change their schedule so that they can take 15 credits at the college pay for the extra credits which is $96.39 per credit on average.

Virkamal Dhaliwal, a Running Start student at Everett Community College,  who enrolled for 17.5 credits in May said, “There was another [enrollment] form we had to get signed by our high school counselor and that was really hectic… it was kind of stressful.”

Despite being 2.5 credits over the 15 credit limit, Dhaliwal will still pay for the credits, although some students may not be able to do that.

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Running Start students can still complete a substantial number of their first two years of college credits early which allows them to save time and money for the students move onto four-year universities. It is also possible for a motivated student to earn their high school diploma and a two year college associate’s degree at the same time.

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