Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Governor signs Hawkins' bill expanding Running Start Program

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OLYMPIA — Thanks to a new law signed by the governor on Monday, High school students in Washington will soon have expanded opportunities to earn college credits through the popular Running Start program.

Senate Bill 5670, dubbed the "Walking Start to Running Start" bill, was introduced by Sen. Brad Hawkins during the 2023 legislative session. The new law allows students to get a head start on earning college credits during the summer term before their junior year of high school.

"I am so grateful the bill was signed into law today," said Hawkins. "It's been a two-year effort with lots of heavy lifting along the way. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and relief to get the bill across the finish line."

The Running Start program currently allows 11th and 12th grade students to earn college credits by taking classes at community colleges and universities through a tuition-free dual enrollment program. Hawkins' bill expands this by permitting students to earn up to 10 college credits in the summer prior to their junior year.

"Running Start is a proven way to build credits and get students on a degree path," Hawkins stated. "Allowing students to begin in the summer leading into their junior year could help ease them into the college experience."

The goal is to help students complete associate's degrees while still in high school, saving money and minimizing debt as they advance closer to a four-year degree.

"I've been calling my bill a 'Walking Start to Running Start' because it will ease students into their college experience, minimize their debt, and get them a bit closer to earning their degrees," Hawkins explained.

Wenatchee Valley College President Faimous Harrison and local Running Start students testified in support of the legislation before the House Education Committee.

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