Running Start Program Helps High Schoolers Save and Get Ahead - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Running Start Program Helps High Schoolers Save and Get Ahead

YAKIMA, Wa -  Interest rates for student loans just went up about two weeks ago, but there is a way for high school students to save money on their college education and get a head start at the same time.  It's been around in Yakima for about 14 years.  The 'Running Start' program at Yakima Valley Community College allows them the chance to earn college credit while they are in high school without having to pay for it.  

Bethany Kissler definitely got a running start on her college education.  "I'm probably a year, two years ahead of another person," says Kissler.

Kissler graduated from Wapato High School last month, but she also received her associate's degree at Yakima Valley Community College.  She'll attend the University of Washington this coming winter.

"It was a great big deal to me. I saved a lot of money," says Kissler.

Through the running start program, Kissler was able to take classes for college credit in high school and she did not have to pay tuition, her high school paid for it.  Sandi Carter runs the 'Running Start' program at YVCC.  She says the program isn't for every student.   "Our best candidates," she says, "are those that are really serious about their education.  They're looking to enhance their high school program."

Running Start is not completely free.  Kissler still had to pay for books, but Carter says students who complete their associate degree and high school requirements at the same time save over $5,000 in tuition.

"I feel like I can handle things a lot better," says Kissler.

That's in the classroom and financially.  Kissler plans to take the fall quarter off so she can work and save some more money for college.

The running start program began at YVCC back in 1992.  430 high school students participated in the program this past school year.