students gathered outside on puyallup campus

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I begin the process of becoming a Running Start student?

The first step is to complete a Pierce College admissions application.

The next step is to determine college-level placement. If you qualify for English 101 (ENGL& 101), or English 101 with co-requisite support (ENGL& 101 + ENGLC 101), then you are eligible for Running Start. If you qualify for college-level math then you may only take math courses number 100 and above through Running Start.

To enroll in college-level math, placement must be determined before registration. Students who do not qualify to take college-level math are strongly encouraged to continue taking math courses at their high school. Many colleges and universities require successful completion through at least Intermediate Algebra for admission.

For more information on completing the placement recommendation call 253-964-6521. Share the results with your high school counselor to determine if Running Start is a good option for you.

Can Running Start students participate in sports? At college? In high school?

Running Start students may not participate in college athletics, but are still eligible for participation at their high school. Although they may not participate in college athletics, they can participate in all college clubs and organizations.

Can I receive a degree from Pierce College at the same time I get my high school diploma?

Yes, this may be possible. However, degree completion relies on several factors, including when the student starts, the intended degree, and successful completion of requirements. The primary goal of the Running Start program is for students to complete high school graduation requirements while earning college credit. Running Start students who start their junior year and attend college full-time through their senior year may have an opportunity to complete their degree at the same time. Running Start students are encouraged to complete their associate degree with Pierce College before transferring to a 4-year college.

Do I have to pay for my books?

Running Start students are responsible for buying their own books. Books can cost up to $150 per class. However, the Pierce College Running Start program does have a book loan program for students who qualify for free or reduced priced lunches at their high school. Funds are limited, so apply for the book loan program early.

Does the high school know if I skip class at the college?

No. College course attendance is not tracked by all college faculty, and there is no discussion between Pierce and your high school regarding your attendance. However, participation in class is important, and frequently grades will reflect attendance and overall participation.

How much do Running Start students pay each quarter for their classes?

The Running Start program funds college-level coursework up to 15 credits. The number of credits each student is funded for is determined by the number of classes the student is enrolled in at their high school. The more classes a student takes at the high school, the less number of credits the student is funded for at the college. A high school counselor or school district official will determine the number of credits each student can take.

Running Start funding does not cover:

  • Tuition for classes under 100 level
  • Tuition for credits above maximum funded limit as noted on the Running Start Enrollment Verification Form (EVF)
  • Additional course or lab fees
  • The cost of books and supplies for class
  • Classes taken during summer quarter

Running Start financial assistance may be available. Students who are foster youth, who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and/or who receive state-funded public assistance may be eligible. Students approved for the fee waiver can have quarterly student fees (fall, winter and spring) and some course fees waived. In addition, approved students are eligible for our Running Start Book Loan program. See the Running Start Student Fee Waiver Application for more information.

Can parents/guardians receive information about their student's academic progress or grades? Why or why not?

Running Start students have the same rights and responsibilities as any other college student. All student educational records are maintained according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) concerning information that becomes part of the permanent record and governing the conditions of its disclosure. Only your name, dates of enrollment, and degrees earned can be released without your authorization.

What is the guidance for parents with regard to communication about the student’s progress?

We encourage open and honest communication between Running Start students and their parents/guardians concerning their academics while attending Pierce College. Students and their families are also encouraged to work closely with their high school counselor  regarding completion of specific high school graduation requirements.

Can Running Start students take online courses?

Yes, these classes are considered to be within the normal delivery of the college curriculum. Keep in mind that many classroom courses have an online component. For more information on distance learning classes, visit eLearning.

How many quarters can a Running Start student enroll in the Running Start program?

All qualified students can enroll up to three quarters (fall, winter and spring) during their junior year and up to three quarters (fall, winter and spring) during their senior year. Special circumstance exists for second-year seniors who have previously participated in Running Start. Please contact the Running Start Office for details.

Can I take summer classes through the Running Start program?

Running Start students may take classes in summer term. Generally, it is their responsibility to pay the full cost of any classes to include tuition, fees and materials.


Important Note: There may be limited funding available for Summer 2023. We are waiting on the final rules and procedures from the 2023 Legislation Session and Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to see what the possibilities are for subsidized funds to support summer Running Start enrollments.

What happens if I stop attending my class?

Many students believe that if they simply stop attending, they will be withdrawn from the course; this is NOT true. Students will receive a 0.0 (Fail) for the course, which becomes part of their permanent high school and college records. They may also be responsible for paying tuition and fees. Failing a class may have serious implications on a student's high school graduation status.

Students can drop a class up according to withdrawal dates published in the Academic Calendar. Students are urged to communicate with their HS counselor regarding their plans to withdraw from a class.

Students have until the 10th day of the quarter to drop a class so it will not impact their college and high school transcript.

After the 10th day of the quarter, until the final withdrawal deadline, students can withdraw from a course. At this point, students will receive a "W" on their college and high school transcript. The "W" does not impact their college GPA.

How many credits can a Running Start student take each quarter?

The number of credits you are funded for is determined by your high school counselor. In addition, your Pierce College advisor may make recommendations on your quarterly credit load. The Running Start program pays for tuition up to a maximum of 15 credits of college level work each quarter. If the student enrolls for more college credits than they are eligible for, the student is responsible for paying all college tuition and fees associated with exceeding the college credits

I did not test into college level math, but I still would like to take math at Pierce College. Am I allowed to do that?

The Running Start Program will fund only college-level courses (courses numbered 100 or above). If a student wishes to take a course below college level, then they must pay for the course and have a High School Release Form signed by a high school counselor or home school parent. Students who do not qualify to take college-level math are STRONGLY encouraged to continue taking math courses at their high school. Many colleges and universities require successful completion through at least Intermediate Algebra for admission.