Answers to frequently asked questions about the Running Start Program at Lower Columbia College.

  For more information see Running Start Handbook.

Running Start is a statewide partnership between community and technical colleges and local high schools.

Running Start is a program that allows 11th and 12th grade students to take college courses at Washington's 34 community and technical colleges. Students earn both high school and college credits for these courses.

College credits completed in Running Start will transfer to most colleges and universities, saving the student time, effort and money. Students can select a schedule that works for them and allows them to easily coordinate classes, work, family, faith and other personal commitments.

  • Students may enroll simultaneously in high school and college classes, or solely at the college.
  • LCC offers day, evening, and online courses
  • Students receive both high school and college credit for classes completed at the college.
  • Students do not need the permission of the high school to enroll in the program, the student and parents make this choice.

Students can still participate in athletics and clubs at their high school, as much as they choose. Additionally, they can participate in clubs, events and activities at Lower Columbia College.

The program was created by the Washington State Legislature RCW 28B.50.535 in order to provide students an opportunity to take college courses while still in high school.

High School Transcripts

  • Have a 3.0 GPA or better in all high school English/Literature classes OR score a 3 or 4 on the English portion of the Smarter Balanced assessment.


  • If you do not qualify for College Level English using the above GPA or SBAC please contact the Running Start office for information regarding the English Self-Directed Placement test.

Students do not have to place into English 101 in order to participate in the program however you may be limited in college level courses that you can take until you complete English 101. Also, if you are planning on obtaining an AA degree you must take English 101. 

Running Start is limited to WA state high school juniors and seniors who:

  • You must be a Junior or Senior as determined by your high school and/or school district.
  • You must be currently enrolled in a Washington State public high school.
  • If you are home schooled, or a in a private school, you will need to enroll in your districts public high school.
  • Students must submit an LCC Admissions Application and a Running Start Application.

Home school or private school students:

  • Must enroll through a local public high school and have a junior or senior standing. However, you do not need to attend classes in the public high school.
  • It is the responsibility of the public high school to establish your grade placement.
  • You must live in the State of Washington.

Running Start students attend regular LCC classes during the day, in the evening, or online, along with regular college students.

College credit is granted upon completion of the course requirements, and these credits normally transfer to most colleges and universities.

Your enrollment at Lower Columbia College creates your official college transcript. College transcripts are considered confidential information and are released to no one – including parents – without your permission (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

At the end of each quarter, your grades are mailed to your high school and included in your high school GPA. Credits also apply to high school graduation according to individual school district policy.

The Running Start program requires maturity, independence and dedication. Classes move at a faster pace, and are more demanding. Students should carefully consider whether they are academically and socially ready for the college environment.

Students are not guaranteed space in preferred college classes, and college schedules may conflict with high school classes or extracurricular activities.

Colleges operate on a quarter system which is different from the high school academic calendar. Holidays and vacations are different. Students are expected to attend classes at the college, even though their high school may not be in session.

Careful planning should take place before making the commitment to participate in Running Start. Students should work carefully with their high school counselor to make sure they complete all high school requirements.

Important Running Start Considerations:

  • Your college grades become part of your permanent high school and college record.
  • Mandatory fees, books and transportation are your responsibility to pay.
  • You will be exposed to alternative viewpoints and material of an adult nature.
  • The college calendar does not match the high school calendar (holidays, finals, and vacations).
  • College courses are faster paced, and typically requires at least two hours of homework for each hour of class.
  • Students who are not academically ready can find the independence and speed of college classes overwhelming.

The Running Start program covers the cost of tuition for college level classes (those numbered 100 and above), up to Full Time Equivalency (FTE).

Students must pay mandatory fees, books, and transportation to and from college.

FTE is calculated by how many minutes the student is in class at the high school during that semester. High school counselors determine the FTE.

Running Start students are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

Other funding programs are available, such as fee waiver program or book fund scholarship.

You must be in the 11th or 12th grade by your first quarter of Running Start. It is recommended to start Fall quarter, however; you can begin during any quarter as long as you meet eligibility requirements.

LCC operates on a quarter system which is different from the high school academic calendar. Holidays and vacation periods are frequently different. Students are expected to attend classes at the college even though their high schools may not be in session. Careful planning must occur in order to avoid conflicts in family and school activities.

Many deadlines apply, including application, testing, registration and attendance at a mandatory orientation.

You can take all of your classes at LCC, or some at LCC and some at your high school.

The average credit load for Running Start students is 11 credits per quarter (approximately 3 classes). The maximum number of credits for which Running Start will cover tuition is 15 credits per quarter, providing you do not exceed the combined enrollment limit.

Running Start students may choose from a full range of courses as long as they are college-level (numbered 100 or higher) and meet the qualifying criteria.

This includes evening and online courses. Your high school counselor can tell you which courses at LCC are accepted by your high school to meet specific graduation requirements, such as CWP or CWI.

There are advantages to all these programs.

Much would depend on whether you want to challenge yourself at the high school environment or want a different learning environment, such as Lower Columbia College. You should contact the university to which you plan to transfer to ask about their acceptance policies in regards to each of the above.

You are responsible for your own transportation to and from college.

If you do not have a car or a driver's license, public transportation is available through River Cities Transit. Students with a current ID card can ride the bus at no cost. For more information see Parking Options at Lower Columbia College.

Home school or private school students:

  • Must enroll through a local public high school and have a junior or senior standing. However, you do not need to attend classes in the public high school.
  • It is the responsibility of the public high school to establish your grade placement.
  • You must live in the State of Washington.

It is the responsibility of the public school district to establish grade placement criteria for home schoolers who want to earn a high school diploma from a public high school.

Some schools consider age appropriateness; others review credits and prior learning. In other cases, a standardized achievement test may be used in the absence of adequate documentation of a student's home-based education.

To comply with federal laws we are required to ask for your Social Security Number (SSN) or individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

We will use your SSN/ITIN to report American Opportunity Tax Credit (formerly Hope Credit), to administer state/federal financial aid, to verify enrollment, degree and academic transcript records, and to conduct institutional research. If you do not submit your SSN/ITIN, you will not be denied access to the college; however, in accordance with state law (RCW 28B.10.042) and federal law (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), the college will protect your SSN from unauthorized use and/or disclosure. If you do not have a Social Security Number or if you do not wish to divulge it for privacy reasons, a randomly assigned Student ID Number will be mailed to you.

Your high school counselor can answer this question when you meet with him/her to "forecast" your Running Start classes.

Different schools accept different courses from LCC to meet specific requirements, such as CWP/CWI or Senior English. It is critical that you work with your high school counselor to make sure that you are meeting your high school graduation requirements. On this form, the high school counselor will indicate what specific graduation requirement each course meets, even if it is an elective.

If you earn your AA and transfer in state, all credits are sealed in your transfer degree.

If you do not earn your AA some colleges may not accept certain credits. Always contact the institution you are transferring to and ask them for input. Give them the class name and the description of the class in the LCC course catalog. The same is true for many private and out of state universities.

Yes, it is possible to graduate from high school with an associate's degree at the same time.

This takes careful planning, so be sure to ask the LCC Running Start office for advice. If you do not plan to graduate from a public high school, you have the option of asking the college to issue a State of Washington high school diploma upon completion of an associate degree.

Yes. Some universities will require either SAT or ACT scores, even if you earn an associate's degree from a community college.

Students may still participate in any high school extracurricular activity, if time permits and consistent with Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) rules of eligibility.

However, Running Start students are not eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics at LCC.

Running Start and non-Running Start students are both eligible to be valedictorian at their high school as long as they meet the high school requirements for that designation.

Order your official LCC transcript online through the National Student Clearinghouse.

Instructions for ordering your official LCC transcript.

You will also need to ask your high school to mail your official high school transcript.

Contact Running Start

Drop in to see us on the second floor of the Student Center during regular business hours, M - F, 8 am to 5 pm, or call or email our Running Start staff.

  Guadalupe Rodriguez, Manager

  (360) 442-2444

 Carmilla Rollins, Education Planner

  (360) 442-2411

 Laura McBride, Education Planner

  (360) 442-2441

 Running Start (General Inquires)

  (360) 442-2442​

Join us on Social Media

Copyright 2022 Lower Columbia College | All Rights Reserved.