Benefits for Students,
Families and State Budgets are Evident
Students and Their
Running Start presents a challenging option for qualified students who
may perform better in a college setting than in a traditional high school.
Students report that taking classes with traditional college-age students
and adults adds a new and demanding dimension to learning.
By allowing students to obtain high school
and college credit simultaneously, Running Start reduces the amount
of time students spend in school, and reduces college costs for students
and their families. In some cases, the dual-credit nature of the program
allows students to complete four years of higher education while only
attending two years at a four-year campus. This saves money for the
state and the students and
Flexibility in class scheduling allows Running
Start students to meet other commitments for education, jobs or family
responsibilities. In fall 2003, 33 percent of the students worked part-time
and 1 percent worked full-time.
Colleges are reimbursed by the K-12 districts whose students participate
in Running Start. For the 2003-04 academic year, colleges received a
statewide standard rate of approximately $87 per credit for academic
programs, and $104 per credit for vocational programs. K-12 districts
retain 7 percent of the state funds for counseling and overhead.
When students earn credit for high school
and college simultaneously, the state pays to support
this education only once.
- With 9,533 FTE students in 2003-04, Running Start
saved Washington taxpayers $36.4 million.
- Students and their parents also save because Running
Start classes are offered tuition-free. In the last academic year,
this resulted in a savings of about $23.1 million in tuition.
- The total amount saved by taxpayers, parents and students
in 2003-04 is estimated at more than $59 million.
Increasing Access to College
Running Start students do not take seats from other students. The state
pays colleges to serve a specific number of students. The colleges serve
those students and enroll Running Start students in addition to the
state-supported students. Since Running Start enrollment has been increasing
at a predictable rate, colleges are able to forecast their enrollment
and plan for the appropriate number of class sections to be offered.
In many cases, the funding that Running Start brings to a college (less
than 4 percent of a college budget) is used to open additional class
sections that are needed, and results in more seats being available
for the entire community. In addition, accelerating students’
progress toward degrees through programs like Running Start frees up
space on college campuses to help meet the projected demand of new students
coming to college.
Characteristics and Performance
of Running Start Students – Fall 2003
Running Start students continue to perform well in two-year colleges
and after transferring to universities. The grade point average for
all Running Start students in two-year institutions is comparable to
similar two-year college students of traditional college age. In 2003-04,
after transferring to the University of Washington, students continued
with solid performance, averaging a GPA of 3.14.
Running Start students complete more of the credits they
attempt, with better grades, than other students of a comparable age
who are attending college. In 2002-03, Running Start students enrolled
for 347,565 credits and completed 87 percent (302,138) of those credits.
The comparison cohort attempted 292,620 credits and completed 84 percent
(247,127) of those credits. In the Running Start cohort, 86 percent
of the students earned a C or better grade in their courses compared
with 83 percent of the comparison cohort. The Running Start data about
grades, completion rates, and degree attainment continues to show that
Running Start students perform at a level that is comparable, and in
some cases, exceeds that of similarly aged college students who are
not in Running Start.
The demographics of Running Start students in fall 2003,
as a group, were very similar to those of previous
- 59 percent of the students were female.
- 17 percent were students of color.
- The average credit load taken by the students was
11 credits per quarter; 76 percent took 10 or more credits during
fall 2003. Many students took one five-credit course per quarter at
college with the balance of classes taken in high school.
- 2 percent were students with disabilities.
- 33 percent of the students worked part-time; 1 percent
- 90 percent of the courses taken were in academic transfer
(primarily courses in social science, English, speech and humanities),
10 percent of the courses were vocational (although 8 percent of the
students attended with the goal of improving workforce skills).
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