Running Start - Frequently Asked Questions

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

The first step is to take a Pierce College assessment (ASSET or COMPASS). If you qualify for English 101 then you are eligible for Running Start. If you qualify for college-level math in addition to Reading 101, then you may only take math courses number 100 and above through Running Start.

For more information on taking the COMPASS assessment at Fort Steilacoom, call 964-6521 or 840-8343 for the Puyallup Testing Center. Take the results back to your high school counselor for review and referral.

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 is possible, however this is not the goal or focus of Running Start. A degree from Pierce College is usually 90 credits. To complete the degree you generally would need to enroll in 15 credits for six quarters (depending upon your academic preparation and chosen major).

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 grant program for students who qualify for free or reduced 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, there is no discussion between the two campuses regarding your attendance. Yet, participation in class is important and frequently grades will reflect attendance.

If I take the ASSET or COMPASS test at another college will it apply at Pierce?

Yes, the scores not the placement will be accepted.  A Pierce College Running Start Advisor will need to review the scores.  You will need to bring your assessment results with you.  The scores must be less than a year old.

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

The Running Start Program pays for tuition up to a maximum of 15 credits of college level work per quarter. The number of credits is determined by your high school counselor and a Pierce College Running Start advisor.

  • paying tuition for classes under 100 level
  • paying tuition for credits above maximum limit
  • any additional course or lab fees
  • the cost of books and supplies for class

Can parents receive information about their daughter/son'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.

Can Running Start students take distance-learning classes?

Yes, it is the opinion of the Attorney General's office that Running Start students will be treated as regular college students and enrolled in regular college classes. These classes are considered to be within the normal delivery of the college curriculum. However, Running Start students must have permission from their high school counselors/school districts to enroll in these classes.

Find more information on the eLearning courses offered at Pierce College.

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?

No, Running Start students are funded only during the normal academic year. Students may take college classes during the summer with a high school release but they are responsible for payment of all tuition and fees.

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. Withdrawing from a class may have serious implications on a student's high school graduation status.

It is important for students to officially withdraw from a course, if necessary. To withdraw from a class, students must obtain a Schedule Change Form from the Advising Center or Registration Office. The student needs to meet with an Advisor to withdraw from a class. The student takes the signed form to the Registration Office before the last date to withdrawal (refer to the Pierce College bulletin for deadlines).

How many credits can a Running Start student each quarter?

The number of credits is determined by your high school counselor and a Pierce College Running Start Advisor. 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 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 they must pay for the course and have a release from the school district. Students who do not qualify to take college level math are STRONGLY encouraged to continue taking math courses at their high school.

Valerie Frey
Running Start Manager

Sarah Hoaglin
Running Start Advisor

Jayna Pettersen
Running Start Advisor
(253) 840-8339

Fort Steilacoom

Schedule an appointment:
Testing: 253-964-6521


Advising: 253-840-8431
Testing: 253-840-8343