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Running Start Eligibility

To be admitted to Tacoma Community College's Running Start program, a student must:

  • Be enrolled in a public high school. Home-schooled students will either enroll through their local public high school or school district. For more information contact the Running Start office at 253.566.6061. Private school students can have dual enrollment at both private and public high schools for access to Running Start classes. 
  • Be a junior or senior according to their high school.
  • Qualify at college level English. College level math placement is not required for admission to the program; however, students who plan to enroll in math and most sciences courses through Running Start must place at college level math.
  • High school graduation requirements are established by the high school. Each quarter students meet with their high school counselor to identify how TCC courses will apply toward graduation. Home school students are not required to meet high school graduation requirements.

Students with high school grade-point-averages of less than 2.50 are admitted, but may be advised to enroll in a college success course their first quarter in the program. Students at Tacoma Community College must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above and complete all courses. If a student falls below academic standard, they are placed on a series of warning, probation, and then suspension from the program.

Enrollment Steps

  • We encourage students and parents to attend a Running Start information session for general information. General information meetings are held in the spring. See the upcoming meeting dates in the text box on the Running Start homepage.
  • Meet with your high school counselor to determine Junior or Senior level standing. It is important that students also discuss college readiness, future goals, financial obligations, and transportation when they meet with the high school counselor.
  • Complete an online Application for Admission to Tacoma Community College, selecting "Running Start" for admit type Application
  • Once you have received your EMPLID (student ID#) via email, you need to qualify at college level English to place into the program.
  1. Take the Accuplacer test. For the Tacoma campus, call 253.566.5158 for an automated message of testing dates and times (no appointment necessary) or the Gig Harbor campus at 253.460.2424 (appointment required). The college assessment is used to determine readiness for college level work. Students will find out their test results immediately following the assessment. The Tacoma campus Assessment office is located in Bldg. 7. For practice tests and websites, click on the Assessment office link above and then the Accuplacer link on that page. The testing fee is $18, payable with a credit card online or at the Cashier's office (cash, checks or money orders ONLY) in Bldg. 14. If you are eligible for reduced lunch at your high school, you are eligible for a fee waiver. Contact the Running Start office for details. Campus Map
  2. You may also use 10th grade Smarter Balance (SBAC) scores of level 3 or 4 or SAT scores (Reading/writing average of 470 or above) for placement into the program. Bring a copy of the scores to the RS office on Tacoma campus.
  • If you qualify, you will receive an application packet from the assessment center. Please follow the step-by-step directions on the application packet carefully and include all the requested materials.
  • Return the application packet to the Running Start office in Bldg. 7. At that time we will schedule an orientation and registration appointment.

Home Schooled Students

  • Students that are of junior or senior status and currently being home-schooled are encouraged to take advantage of the Running Start program. You may attend full time or part-time and take classes that would be used toward an Associate degree. 
  • Home school students can enroll through their local high school or school district office (enrollment process for home school students varies by school district, contact the Running Start office for more information 253.566.6061. Home school students accessing Running Start are not required to meet high school graduation requirements
  • To qualify, you would need to place at college level in English on TCC’s assessment test. College level math placement is not required for admission to the program; however, students who plan to enroll in math and most sciences courses through Running Start must place at college level math. Students would need to enroll through their local high school or school district office and have filed an Intent for Home-Based Instruction the year prior to accessing Running Start to have free tuition (students pay for class and campus fees and for books. Assistance is available to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch) through the Running Start program.
  • If a home-schooled student begins in the Fall of their junior year, they would be entitled to 6 quarters (Fall, Winter, and Spring of their junior and senior year). If the student begins in the fall of their senior year they would be entitled to 3 quarters. If a student begins mid-year, the number of quarters would be pro-rated.

Transferring after Running Start

  • College credits are transferable to Washington State public colleges and universities, and to most private colleges in the state. The University of Puget Sound does not conform to this practice and students are encouraged to meet with an admissions representative from the university. It is important for students to consult with college admissions representatives and departmental advisors as early as possible. Students should contact out-of-state colleges for their policies on accepting Running Start credits. We will be happy to furnish information about the program.
  • ALL Running Start students who plan to apply to baccalaureate institutions should take SAT and/or ACT tests with their high school class to comply with college admission requirements. We strongly encourage students to maintain close contact with their high schools for testing dates, application deadlines and scholarship information in preparation for admission to four year institutions.

Program Costs

  • Tuition for college-level classes is covered by the program. Students are responsible for class and campus fees, books, transportation and any below 100 level credits taken. If the student qualifies for free or reduced lunch at his or her high school, we have fee and book assistance. Contact the Running Start office at 253.566.6061 for details.
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