Running Start Program Not Getting Cut from Columbia Basin College - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Running Start Program Not Getting Cut from Columbia Basin College

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PASCO, Wash--  For college senior Alex Lasota, the end is in sight, and a year early.

"I really enjoyed the program personally because it got me a year ahead, a head start," she says.

Lasota started Columbia Basin College in her senior year of Richland High thanks to the 'Running Start' program.  She's since graduated with an associates degree.  Now it's on to her bachelor's degree at WSU Tri-Cities.

"I'm studying english and digital technology and culture," Lasota adds.

And best of all for her, it was a year of free tuition.

"I'm thinking of grad school, so it really helped me out in that aspect," she says.

"The money is transferred from the K-12 institution to the college institution and the family doesn't pay tuition," says Columbia Basin College President Richard Cummins

And that's part of the problem.  The college is losing $3 million, an estimated 1,000 students, and adding a 7% tuition hike.  Some say its unfair high school students get a free ride.  But C.B.C. president Richard Cummins defends the program.

"That's based on the idea these students aren't regular students," he notes.  "They are regular college students."

The program has grown since the state legislature adopted it in the early 1990s.  Now almost 500 high school students are taking college level courses at C.B.C.

"Our teachers don't know who the running start students are," adds Cummins.  "They might make some guesses, but the law is blind to that."