Running Start

Prospective Students

About Running Start

The Running Start program was created by the state legislature in the early 1990s as an opportunity for eligible high school juniors and seniors to earn college-level credit, tuition free.

Running Start is a good fit for students who:
  • Are ready for the challenge of college-level coursework
  • Are motivated to participate in the college environment and possess the maturity to do so
  • Seek academic challenges not available at their high school
Green River’s Running Start program at a glance:
  • Students from over 30 high schools and 15 school districts
  • Over 1,100 participants each quarter
  • The average GPA is approximately 3.0
  • Mixture of full-time and part-time students
  • Students enrolled in both transfer and career and technical education programs

Getting Started

1. Apply for Admission Online

Prior to taking the COMPASS assessment, apply for admission to Green River College. It is ideal to apply at least a few days prior to taking the COMPASS in order to allow time for application processing.

2. Determine Eligibility

To be eligible for Running Start at Green River, students must place eligible for Engl& 101. See the placement website for options including COMPASS, high school transcript, or placement reciprocity. Most students take the COMPASS Assessment to determine eligiblity - you must first receive your Student ID number through email before taking the assessment. The Assessment and Testing Center is located in the Zgolinski Welcome Center. Bring picture ID with you! You will receive your scores upon completion of the assessment.

3. Obtain Running Start Enrollment Verification Form

The high school counselor will complete their section of the Running Start Enrollment Verification Form. This form a) releases you from your high school so you can attend Green River, and b) informs Green River about the amount of credits you are released to take in the Running Start program. This form must be turned in each quarter in order to participate in the Running start program. Make sure a parent/guardian signs it, even if you are over 18!

Home School Students: All home school students must contact their local high school/district to seek instructions on enrollment procedures, which may differ from district to district. All home school students must also turn in the Running Start Enrollment Verification Form every quarter. Make sure a parent/guardian signs it, even if you are over 18!

4. Submit Running Start Enrollment Verification Form

Submit your completed Running Start Enrollment Verification Form to the Zgolinski Welcome Center. Upon submission of your paperwork, you will sign up for a mandatory Running Start Orientation.

5. Attend Running Start Orientation

You must sign up for a Running Start Orientation (which are provided on a first-come basis). During the orientation session, you will register for classes and learn specific information about attending college as a Running Start student.


Fall Quarter 2015

NEW Running Start Students

  • Registration for Fall 2015 begins May 18th, 2015

DEADLINE to Register for Fall Quarter

  • September 14th, 2015



  • Be enrolled through a public high school/district. Homeschooled and private school students are encouraged to contact their local school district for instructions on their enrollment procedures.
  • Be a junior or senior, according to grade level placement policies of the district the student is enrolled through.
  • Meet minimum placement requirements (see below).
  • Be 16 upon admission to the program, or turn 16 during the first quarter of enrollment in Running Start.

Placement Requirements

Prospective Running Start students must be eligible for Engl& 101 to participate in the program. 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 a person's skill levels in reading, writing, and math. COMPASS placement also helps guide students in their decisions about which classes to take. 

Green River will honor any placement method on the placement website, including placement reciprocity. However, most students generally use COMPASS to demonstrate eligibility for Engl& 101. Students are encouraged to try sample questions before assessing. Picture ID is required to assess.

Math Placement

Running Start students are strongly encouraged to continue math courses-even if they have met their high school's math diploma requirement. Stopping out of a math sequence can make it difficult later on to get back into the groove of taking math. Students may complete math at the high school or decide to take math at Green River-either way, it's a good idea to do so.

Please visit the placement website for information on advising and placement. Aside from the COMPASS, there are other ways students are placed into math at Green River. If you feel your COMPASS scores are not an accurate reflection of your skills, these options may be useful to you.


What does Running Start Cost?

The Running Start program covers up to 15 credits of tuition for college level courses (courses numbered 100+), depending on the number of classes taken at the high school. However, there are associated costs with participating in the program, as outlined below.

  • COMPASS assessment fee: Currently the fee is $20, but is subject to change 
  • Books and supplies: Costs vary per quarter, according to class schedule (average for a full time student: $300 per quarter). Running Start offers a fee waiver and book loan program for qualifying students.
  • Quarterly fees associated with tuition: Facilities fee, Technology fee, Student Center fee, and Special Services fee. There is waiver of quarterly registration fees for qualifying students.
  • Class fees: Costs vary per quarter according to enrollment (see Quarterly Class Schedule for details)
  • Application for graduation fee: $20 (degree and/or certificate) (temporarily suspended)

Running Start students may choose to enroll in classes that are below college level (any course that begins with the number ‘0') or development classes (English 100 or Read 104). Enrollment in these courses is separate from the Running Start program and as such, 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 1 and 10 (See Tuition and Fees). Additionally, Running Start students who enroll in more than 15 credits will be charged tuition for the 16th credit and beyond.

Note: All tuition and fees are subject to change.

Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program

Running Start students may apply for a waiver of their quarterly fees associated with tuition, as well as the Book Loan Program if they meet the below eligibility criteria.

Applications are available in the Running Start Office, LC building, Room 126 or may be requested by phone at (253) 833-9111, ext. 2643 or email at: You may also download it here. Applications must be submitted no later than the Friday before the quarter starts to the Running Start office (LC 126). Only one application per year is required and is not retroactive to previous quarters.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You are eligible for the Free or Reduced Lunch program in the district you are enrolled through. OR
  • You are a foster youth. OR
  • Your family falls within the "income cutoff chart" established by the state in awarding state need grants (SNG) as noted below:

Median Family Income (2014-2015 State Need Grant Program)

2014-2015 SNG Program

(rounded to nearest $500)
Family Size Gross Income
1     21,500
2     28,500
3     35,000
4     41,500
5     48,500
6     55,000
7     56,000
8     57,500
9     58,500
*10     60,000

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

  • You may NOT sell Running Start textbook(s) back to the Bookstore.
  • You will be held accountable for the condition of textbook(s). The expectation is the textbook(s) 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, etc.).
  • 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 textbook(s) no later than the last day of the quarter.
  • You are responsible for verifying which textbook(s) are required.

Benefits & Challenges

Program Benefits

  • Take courses not offered at their high school
  • Complete advanced coursework
  • Transition to the college environment while still living at home, surrounded by friends and family
  • Experience personal growth in decision-making and responsibility while creating their own future educational plans
  • Join any student club or organization or participate in student government and leadership (with the exception of intercollegiate athletics)
  • Save up to two years of college tuition
  • Make a fresh start in a new environment
  • Experience the diversity of the college setting with respect to students, instructors and class options
  • Potential to earn an associate degree and high school diploma simultaneously

Program Challenges

  • Classes move at college pace and college rigor
  • Grades become a part of your permanent college transcript
  • Attendance is not always taken, but is expected
  • Different holiday schedule
  • Students must take initiative to access college resources, e.g., math learning center, writing center, etc.
  • Students are responsible for knowing their academic status at all times
  • Communication between college and family is restricted (all college students are protected by FERPA); there is no online progress report
  • The program is not free - tuition is free

How College is Different from High School (PDF)

Information Sessions

Are you considering participating in the Running Start Program at Green River? Sign up for an information session to learn all about it: the challenges, benefits, eligibility requirements, and more.

Sign up

If, after reviewing our website, you have further questions, please contact the office at (253) 833-9111, ext. 2643.