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Home » Student Success » Support Programs » Dual Credit Programs

Dual Credit Programs

Dual Credit Updates

To receive periodic updates on dual credit, sign up for OSPI’s Dual Credit Updates listserv under the “General Topics” drop-down list.

Bulletin 057-23 on Dual Credit for SY 2023-24

The following documents provide important updates on legislative changes to Running Start and College in the High School and updated forms needed for these and other dual credit programs.

Contact Information

Tim McClain
Dual Credit Program Supervisor

Dual Credit provides students with the potential to earn high school and college credit at the same time through successful completion of a course and/or corresponding exam. Exam-based options include Advanced Placement (AP), Cambridge International (CI), International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Course-based dual credit options include Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit, College in the High School (CiHS), and Running Start programs. Eligibility requirements and availability of each program varies, and distinct enrollment processes and transcription steps may be required for exam scores or course completion to result in college credit. 

Why dual credit? In today's world, two-thirds of all jobs require some post-high school training or education. Taking dual credit is connected to higher high school graduation rates, college enrollment, and degree completion.

Dual Credit Legislative Updates

In 2023 the legislature passed two bills and one budget proviso to expand access to ensure equitable participation in two of the state’s dual credit programs—Running Start and College in the High School (CiHS). Concerning Running Start, Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1316 increased the combined monthly full-time equivalent (FTE) and annual average FTE (AAFTE) enrollment limit from 1.20 to 1.40 and directed OSPI to adopt rules to allow participation in Running Start during the summer term. An “after-exit” Running Start proviso was also included in the state budget to permit eligible graduating students to participate in summer quarter Running Start to complete their associate degree. Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 5048 removed CiHS fees for students attending a public high school or charter school by establishing a state funding structure to directly fund public institutions of higher education (IHEs) offering CiHS courses. The bulletin and documents to the right provide important information about dual credit program changes and the resources required to implement them.

Program Specific FAQ Documents

Course-Based Dual Credit

In course-based dual credit (concurrent enrollment), a student enrolls in a class that has the potential to earn both high school and college credit. Course-based dual credit classes can be offered at the high school (Career and Technical Education and College in the High School) or at the college (Running Start). 

Exam-Based Dual Credit

Exam-based dual credit allows a student to take an exam (AP, CI, or IB) and apply to receive college credit with a corresponding exam score of 3 or better (for AP), a score of 4 or better (IB), and E or better (CI).

General Dual Credit FAQs

Regarding student readiness and interests:

  • Taking rigorous coursework in an area of interest and/or skill can increase a student’s success.
  • Taking dual credit courses that have exams (AP/CI/IB) gives students a chance to try a college preparatory course and choose not to take the exam or not to send the score if they don’t want to attempt earning the corresponding college course credit.
  • There is more potential for earning actual college credit, and also some risk, with Running Start and College in the High School since the student actually starts an official college transcript by taking college courses.
  • Offered at the high school or a local skills center, taking a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit course can earn a student college credit while satisfying specific high school credit requirements. CTE Dual Credit courses may also be part of a CTE Graduation Pathway, enabling a student to complete the graduation pathway requirement. With CTE Dual Credit, students can choose at the end of the course whether to accept the college credit or not.
  • Offered on the college campus and taught by its faculty, Running Start provides students with an early taste of college life. College in the High School, on the other hand, exposes students to the same rigor and college-level work without leaving the high school environment.

Regarding transfer of college credits or exam scores:

  • The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) maintains the Washington Student Achievement Council's Dual Credit Programs Comparison document that compares program information, costs, and other variances between the different dual credit programs.
  • The Washington State Council of Presidents has developed resources to help inform families and students about dual credit.
  • The Washington 45 is a list of college courses that students can take via Running Start or possibly College in the High School that are the most likely courses to transfer into any public 2/4-year college in Washington.
  • Each college maintains its own webpage dedicated to “transfer credit”, which is the term most colleges use when referring to “dual credit”. Going directly to the college where the student wants to enroll will guarantee the most accurate information.
  • Though uncommon, there can be modest financial aid impacts related to dual credit, and students and families are encouraged to consult with college financial aid officers when taking early and/or heavy dual credit course loads.

While most federal and state-funded resources are available to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch (FRPL), students should always ask their counselor if there are any other school or community-based resources that can help.

For all dual credit programs, high schools may apply for Consolidated Equity and Sustainability Grant (FP 154) funding to expand their programs, increase access, and lower costs for students. These funds can be used to help students with the costs any dual credit program.

For college preparatory courses with exams (AP/IB/CI):

  • Washington’s test fee subsidy program provides funding each year to reduce the cost of AP/IB/CI exams for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.
  • Schools can also use Federal Title IV funds to help with test fees.

For concurrent enrollment courses through College in the High School (CHS):

  • Substitute Senate Bill 5048 established a state-supported funding structure to administer College in the High School (CiHS), thereby eliminating costs to students attending a public high school or charter school and enrolled in a CiHS course offered by an approved Washington public institution of higher education.

For concurrent enrollment courses through Running Start:

  • Colleges must make fee waivers available to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
  • Many colleges also provide financial assistance and/or loan programs for books for low-income students.

Running Start is unique because it takes place on a college campus (except when a student is enrolled in college courses online). Ideally, students will enroll beginning with the fall term to maximize eligibility. Depending upon the college and high school’s process, enrollment for the fall quarter/semester can begin as early as February of the same calendar year. Interested sophomores and juniors should begin asking for information by January of the same year in which they want to enroll in Running Start.

Interested students should start by meeting with their high school counselor and/or attending any kind of Running Start information event. The high school counselor or advisor will help the student determine:

  1. If Running Start fits with the student’s interests, skill level, and High School and Beyond Plan,
  2. What courses the student can take that will meet high school graduation requirements,
  3. What the college eligibility, orientation, and registration processes entail, and
  4. What, if any, resources may be available to help with the costs of fees, books, supplies, and transportation.

At any time, interested students may also go to the college’s website, type Running Start into the search box, and explore what the college’s eligibility, orientation, and enrollment processes entail.

Course-Based Dual Credit 

In course-based dual credit (concurrent enrollment), a student enrolls in a class that has the potential to earn both high school and college credit. Course-based dual credit classes can be offered at the high school (Career and Technical Education and College in the High School) or at the college (Running Start). 

    Consolidated Equity & Sustainability Dual Credit Grant

    With Substitute Senate Bill 5048 eliminating College in the High School fees to students, schools and districts no longer need to apply for CiHS subsidies through the Consolidated Equity & Sustainability (CES) Grant. The CES Grant will continue to support school and district efforts to expand access to dual credit opportunities and better serve underrepresented students in dual credit. The CES Grant application is being redesigned and will be released in the fall following a survey soliciting interested and eligible applicants. If you wish to be notified of the survey or application release, contact Angel Martinez, and sign up for the Dual Credit Updates listserv under “General Topics”.