Running Start

Prospective Students

The Washington State Legislature established Running Start as an option to offer high school students more choices to complete their high school education. The Running Start program offers academically qualified high school juniors and seniors enrolled in public high schools the opportunity to take college classes while earning credit for high school. Students may take classes at any one of the three Green River campuses or online. Students interested in Running Start may learn more about the program by reading this website or attending an information session on campus.

Green River's Running Start Program at a glance:

  • 1,500 students participate from over 40 high schools across 15 school districts.
  • Average GPA of a Running Start student is 3.0.
  • Mixture of students who are enrolled full-time and part-time at Green River.
  • Students have the option to earn their high school diploma from Green River by completing any associate degree.
  • Students pursue both transfer and career and technical education programs.
  • Students participate in campus activities and leadership.

Registration for fall 2016 is open through September 12th. It's not too late to register for classes.

Visit the Getting Started tab below for steps to sign up!



Eligibility Criteria

To participate in Running Start at Green River, students must:

  • Be enrolled through a public high school district. Students who are home schooled or attend a private school are encouraged to contact their local public school district for instructions on their enrollment procedures.
  • Be a high school junior or senior, according to grade level placement policies of the district the student is enrolled through.
  • Be at least 16 years old upon admission to the program, or turn 16 during the first quarter of enrollment in Running Start.
  • Meet minimum placement requirements, see below for more information.

English Placement

Students must be eligible for Engl& 101 to participate in Running Start. Most students complete an assessment to demonstrate they are prepared for college-level coursework. Green River uses a placement tool called the COMPASS, which assesses reading and math skills. COMPASS placement also helps guide students in their decisions about which classes to take. 

Students may use alternative placement methods if they believe COMPASS scores do not accurately reflect their ability or skill levels. These alternative methods include high school or college transcripts, AP or IB test scores, Smarter Balanced Assessment scores and placement reciprocity. See our placement website for more information on alternative placement methods. Most students generally use COMPASS to demonstrate eligibility for Engl& 101.

Math Placement

There is no required math placement for students to be able to participate in Running Start. However, students are strongly encouraged to continue math courses even if they have met their high school's math requirement for graduation. Stopping out of a math sequence can make it difficult later on to continue with the next level of math. Students may complete math at the high school or decide to take math at Green River. Either way, it is recommended students continue with math. Students may use any method of placement on our placement website for math.

Benefits and Challenges

Benefits of participating in Running Start:

  • Potential savings of up to 15 tuition-free college credits per quarter.
  • Earn high school and college credit simultaneously, with the potential to earn both an associate degree and high school diploma.
  • Complete academically challenging college coursework.
  • Larger selection of classes and schedule flexibility.
  • Ease into becoming a college student by taking classes while still living at home, with support from family and friends.
  • Experience a diverse college campus and meet people from different backgrounds.
  • Access to campus resources such as tutoring, library, and recreational center.
  • Join student clubs and organizations or participate in student government and leadership, with the exception of intercollegiate athletics.
  • Students have the option to earn their high school diploma from Green River College by completing any associate degree.

Challenges of participating in Running Start:

  • Running Start is not entirely free; students are responsible for fees, textbooks, supplies and transportation. Students may qualify for fee waiver and book loan assistance.
  • Classes are more rigorous and move at a faster pace.
  • Grades receieved during Running Start become part of student's permanent transcript.
  • Different academic calendar and schedule from high school.
  • Students are responsible for knowing their academic standing and registration status.
  • Students are responsible for taking initiative to access resources such as tutoring and advising services.
  • Communication between college staff and parents or family is limited per FERPA regulations.

How College is Different from High School


What does Running Start Cost?

The Running Start program covers up to 15 credits of tuition for college-level courses; courses numbered 100 or above, depending on the number of classes taken at the high school. However, there are other costs that Running Start does not pay for:

  • Assessment Fees: The COMPASS is $10 per section (reading and math).
  • Textbooks and supplies: Costs will vary depending on required textbooks and supplies required for each class (average cost of books and supplies for a full-time student is $300 per quarter).
  • Quarterly student-voted fees: These include facilities fee, technology fee, student center fee and special services fee. 
  • Class fees: Cost varies per quarter according to enrollment; see quarterly class schedule for details.

Running Start students may choose to enroll in developmental classes that are below college-level (courses that begin with the number ‘0' or READ 104). Enrollment in these courses is separate from the Running Start program and students are responsible for full tuition for those courses. For example, if a student enrolls in Math 097, the student will be charged tuition for the class according to their residency and the per-credit rate applied for credits between one and ten (see Tuition and Fees). Additionally, Running Start students who enroll in more than 15 credits will be charged tuition for the sixteenth credit and beyond.

Note: All tuition and fees are subject to change.

Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program

Running Start students can take advantage of the Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program which assists students with waiving the cost of quarterly student-voted fees as well as allowing students to loan required textbooks for classes if they are available. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You are eligible for the Free or Reduced Lunch program in the high school district you are enrolled through. OR
  • You are a foster youth. OR
  • Your family income falls within the income chart established by the state in awarding the State Need Grant (SNG) as noted below:
2016-2017 SNG Program

(rounded to nearest $500)
Family Size Gross Income
1     22,000
2     29,000
3     35,500
4     42,500
5     49,500
6     56,000
7     57,500
8     58,500
9     60,000
*10     61,000

*If your family size is more than ten, please contact the Running Start Office for eligibility information.

In order to participate in the Book Loan Program you must agree to the following terms:

  • You may not sell Running Start textbooks back to the Bookstore.
  • You will be held accountable for the condition of textbooks. The expectation is the textbooks will be returned in good condition (e.g. the cover is intact, all pages are accounted for, it is not written in or excessively highlighted).
  • Books are not guaranteed every quarter and are available on a first come, first serve basis.
  • You will submit an application for the Book Loan Program at the beginning of each academic year you are enrolled in the Running Start Program and wish to borrow books.
  • You will return Running Start textbooks no later than the last day of the quarter.
  • You are responsible for verifying which textbooks are required.

Additional Information:

  • Book loan is on a first come, first serve basis depending upon availability. Eligibility does not guarantee we have all required textbooks. 
  • Fee waiver applies to student-voted fees only. Class fees cannot be waived and tuition for classes below college-level are not covered through the program.

Applying for the Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program:

  • Complete the Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program Application and submit form to the Running Start Office located in SA 126.
  • Applications must be submitted no later than the Friday before the start of the quarter starts to the Running Start Office. Only one application is required for the duration of your time in the Running Start program at Green River. Applying for the Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program cannot retroactively cover fees owed from quarter prior to application.
  • You will receive an email after your application has been processed.

Getting Started

1) Apply for Admission to Green River College

Apply for admission to Green River College online. It is ideal to apply at least a few days prior to taking the COMPASS to allow time for your application to process and receieve your student ID number before your test.

2) Determine Eligibility

To be eligible for Running Start, you must place into ENGL& 101. Visit our placement website for more information on placement options which include COMPASS, high school transcripts, Smarter Balanced scores or placement reciprocity. Most students take the COMPASS to determine eligibility:

  • Visit the testing website for locations and hours of operation for the Assesment and Testing Center.
  • It is strongly recommended to pratice prior to testing; see COMPASS sample questions.
  • Bring photo ID and your Green River student ID number when you are ready to test. The COMPASS costs $20.
  • The test is untimed and takes about two hours on average. You will recieve your scores after finishing the test.
  • Retakes are limited. See Assessment and Testing for more information on test retakes.

3) Obtain Running Start Enrollment Verification Form

You must complete an Enrollment Verification Form with your high school counselor and parent or guardian. The EVF releases you from your high school so you can attend Green River and indicates the number of credits you are eligible to take each quarter. This form must be completed fully (including Green River Student ID number, student signature and parent or guardian signature) and turned in each quarter in order to participate in Running Start.

Home-schooled students must contact their local high school district to seek instructions on enrollment procedures, which may differ by district. All students must turn in a completed EVF with student ID number, student signature, and parent or guardians' signature.

4) Submit Running Start Enrollment Verification Form

Submit your completed EVF in-person to any Green River campus, email to, or send a fax to the Running Start Office at (253) 288-3324. Retain the original copy for your records. Upon receipt of your EVF, a staff member will contact you to schedule an appointment to attend a Running Start Registration & Orientation session. Please ensure you provide a valid email address, as this is how we will communicate with you regarding your upcoming Registration and Orientation session.

5) Attend a Running Start Registration & Orientation Session

All students must attend a Running Start Registration and Orientation session. You will sign up for a session with staff after submitting your EVF. During this session you will learn about the Running Start program, your responsibilities as a college student, student resources and how to register for classes.

New Student Registration Dates & Deadlines

Below are important registration dates for upcoming quarters.


Registration Opens

Registration Deadline

Fall 2016

May 16, 2016

September 12, 2016

Winter 2017



Spring 2017




Information Sessions

If you would like more information about the Running Start program at Green River sign up to attend an information session to learn about the benefits, challenges, eligibility requirements and more.

Sign Up