Jun 25, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

High School Partnerships

College in the High School/Cornerstone

Central Washington University’s College in the High School/Cornerstone program is a cooperative partnership between school districts across the state of Washington and CWU. The program allows high school students to take CWU courses from their approved high school instructors without leaving their high school campus. Students benefit from the academic challenges of college course work and find that the experience helps to clarify their educational goals. The College in the High School/Cornerstone program can also help ease with the transition from high school to college, and provide students with a unique opportunity to take on more academic responsibility.

Courses are taught by high school teachers who have been approved as non-tenure track faculty by the appropriate CWU academic departments. High school teachers work closely with CWU faculty liaisons to ensure that the materials taught in the high school are equivalent to a course taught on the university campus. CWU faculty liaisons provide high school teachers with syllabus development, curriculum, and the necessary support to help assure that the College in the High School/Cornerstone students are experiencing the same academic rigor as those who are taking classes on any CWU campus. The College in the High School and Cornerstone programs act the same in obtaining college credit but there are some key differences financially.

College in the High School courses are paid for by the State of Washington. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) provides funding for those schools that have applied and qualified. This state funding is only available for 11th and 12th grade students in schools that have been awarded the subsidy.

Cornerstone courses are privately paid, whether that be the student/family, the school district, or an outside organization. Students are able to take Cornerstone courses at the same time as College in the High School courses, although students are only allowed to take 15 credits per grading term through both Cornerstone and College in the High School. Students who are in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades are eligible under Cornerstone.

Students interested in participating in College in the High School/Cornerstone should speak with their high school counselor or administrator to find out what CWU classes are available at their school.

For more information, visit us at www.cwu.edu/college-hs or call 509-963-1351.

Running Start

Central Washington University welcomes eligible high school juniors and seniors to participate in the Running Start program at Ellensburg and Sammamish. Students enrolled in the Running Start program are able to take college courses tuition-free during the fall, winter, and spring quarters. Public, home, and private school students are all encouraged to apply.

The credits earned from these courses apply to Central Washington University general education and major requirements and are generally transferable to other colleges and universities, while also satisfying high school requirements. Students may enroll simultaneously in high school and college courses, or exclusively in college courses. Participating in the Running Start program allows Running Start students the opportunity to take a wide range of courses from CWU faculty and gain the experience of a traditional college student while also enjoying the support of their family, high school, and local community.

Admission Requirements:

  • Applicants with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher will automatically be admitted.
  • Applicants with a 2.5 - 2.99 cumulative GPA will be considered for admission based on grades AND test scores.
  • Applicants with a 2.00 - 2.49 cumulative GPA will be considered through CWU’s Running Start Admission Review Process. In this process, we consider grade trends, course rigor, and test scores.
  • Homeschool students are evaluated on an individual basis and must submit both homeschool transcripts and appropriate test scores. 
  • To be considered for admission, students must have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA in high school and any applicable college work.
  • CWU does not require an essay at the time of application. If during the review process we feel additional information will be helpful, we will request it.

Placement Testing

In order to register for a particular class, students must meet the eligibility requirements as stated in the CWU Course Catalog. Requirements usually vary between classes, but two common requirements are either successfully passing previous course work and/or placement testing. Appropriate test scores include Smarter Balance, Accuplacer, ACT, SAT, and ALEKS. Please see the CWU College Catalog for a full listing of appropriate placement tests and scores. 

CWU offers students the option to take the ACT Residual and Accuplacer English and Math Placement tests at the Ellensburg campus. Accuplacer testing is available at the Sammamish campus. Students who are unable to schedule testing at a CWU location are welcome to submit test scores from other colleges.

  • ACT Residual is an on-campus ACT test available to students who are unable to test during the national test dates. ACT Residual is intended for students who are applying to CWU and the scores are only reported to CWU for admission, course placement, and advising purposes. Students taking the ACT Residual will not be able to send their results to other colleges. The ACT Residual is offered once a month in Ellensburg.
  • Accuplacer is a computer-based test designed to assist accurate placement into appropriate courses for Math and English. Accuplacer offers tests in reading, writing, and math. You will receive your test results immediately upon completion of testing, and your score report will include placement messages informing you what courses you should take.
  • Students in the Ellensburg area should check for available dates using the “Schedule a Test” link on the testing website (www.cwu.edu/testing).
  • Students in the Sammamish area should contact CWU Sammamish at 509-963-3690 to schedule the Accuplacer test.
  • The Running Start office can pay for testing at CWU if a student meets criteria for the Running Start Book Loan and Testing Fee Waiver program. Please see below for details. If you qualify for this program, you need to submit your application to the Running Start office before scheduling your test.

Please note that CWU does not use ACT, SAT, or Smarter Balance test scores for placement into pre-calculus or calculus math courses. Students wanting to enroll in Math 153 (Pre-Calculus I) will need one of the following: one year of high school calculus with a grade of B or higher, or an Accuplacer College Math score of 35 or higher, or ALEKS score of 51% or higher.

Advising and Registration

Each quarter (fall, winter, and spring), Running Start students will be able to register online after attending an advising appointment with the Running Start advisor. Students should review the quarterly calendar to determine when their registration assignment and the quarterly schedule will be available. Registration assignments are not advising appointments. They are the earliest day that registration will open for a particular student.

Once a student has determined when they will be able to register, they should view the quarterly schedule and plan which courses they want to take. Because registration is based on seniority, some courses may no longer be available by the time a particular student can register. Therefore, students should plan 2 to 3 different schedules that will work for their high school requirements and college goals.

After choosing possible schedules, students should schedule an appointment to meet with their high school counselor to review high school requirements and fill out the Running Start Enrollment Verification Form (RSEVF). This form is due each quarter. Students will not be permitted to register until a signed and completed RSEVF is turned in to the Running Start office. The high school has the final word on which CWU courses will fulfill high school graduation requirements. (Homeschool students are not required to complete state high school graduation requirements. They are, however, required to complete the RSEVF each quarter prior to enrolling.)

Students are welcome to schedule an appointment for advising any time between the beginning of advising and the last day of registration. Students should, however, meet with their high school counselor and fill out the RSEVF before attending a Running Start advising appointment. At the advising appointment, the student and advisor will discuss course selections, how these fit into the student’s academic goals at CWU or other institutions, and review the student’s academic progress.

The Running Start advisor is also available to meet with students to discuss applying to CWU and other institutions, academic degree planning, referrals to other resources on campus, help with selecting a major, scholarship resources, and navigating college life. Once the student meets with the Running Start advisor, they will be released to register and will be able to register for their courses online through their MyCWU account during their assigned enrollment period.

Students will be notified about advising, registration, and other important dates via their CWU email accounts. Students are expected to check their CWU email on a regular basis (daily) so that they do not miss important information from the Running Start office, other services on campus, and their instructors. Students who are unsure of how to access their email or MyCWU account are welcome to stop by the Running Start office in Ellensburg (Hebeler 122) or Sammamish (main office) for assistance.

Please keep in mind that Running Start funding is only available for the fall, winter, and spring quarters. Students wishing to enroll in summer courses at CWU must obtain permission from the Registrar’s Office and pay full tuition.

Benefits and Challenges

There are a number of benefits afforded to students who participate in the Running Start program, but students can also encounter some challenges. As you make the important decision about applying to the Running Start program, please keep the following in mind.


  • Students have the opportunity to take courses that may not be offered at their local high schools.
  • Academically prepared students have an opportunity to take college level courses.
  • Students have an opportunity to experience university education while in high school. This experience may be helpful in making the transition from home to college, self-assessing college readiness skills, and in informing future education plans.
  • Students can earn up to two years of tuition-free college credit during the fall, winter, and spring quarters, saving many dollars in college education.
  • It is not uncommon for students who have strong college readiness skills, yet have difficulty fitting-in the traditional high school setting, to flourish in a different educational setting such as college.
  • In college, high school students have the opportunity to gain academic and career maturity and knowledge from participating within the challenge of a college setting and with other college students.
  • Running Start students are eligible to take part in college activities, with the exception of intercollegiate athletics.
  • Students can get a “Running Start” on completing a college degree including general education requirements and prerequisites to a college major.
  • Students may still participate in any high school extracurricular activity, if time permits and consistent with Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) rules of eligibility.
  • Students who have transferred between high schools and have incurred credit difficulties may find that Running Start can help them meet graduation requirements on time.
  • Financially, this is the best scholarship a student can earn. Consider the worth of each college class completed.
  • First time freshmen with CWU enrollment prior to high school graduation through CWU Cornerstone, CWU College in the High School, or Running Start at CWU will be given a $500 tuition award, provided they have earned a 3.00 cumulative GPA or higher in their CWU courses. Note: Students must be admitted by February 1 and submit a FAFSA for their freshman year to receive the tuition waiver.


  • Some students who are academically qualified may not be ready socially or emotionally for the college environment. They may find the independence and speed of college classes overwhelming. Maturity is one of the key ingredients needed for success in Running Start.
  • High schools provide a social network and social development experiences for teenagers. This network is not as readily available at the college level as it is in the high schools. However, Running Start students may participate in student activities at the college, such as clubs.
  • Students are not guaranteed space in preferred college classes, and college schedules may conflict with high school classes or extracurricular activities (sports, drama, music, etc).
  • CWU operates on a quarter system, which may be different from the high school academic calendar. Holidays and vacation periods are frequently different. Students are expected to attend classes at the university even though their high schools may not be in session. Careful planning must occur in order to avoid conflicts in family and school activities.
  • College courses move at a much faster pace than high school courses. A class that may take a semester or year at the high school will be completed in ten weeks at the university.
  • The high school is the final authority on high school graduation requirements. It is important to work closely with a high school counselor to insure graduation requirements will be met. Some schools may not allow students to participate in graduation ceremonies if their college classes are not completed by the date of graduation. Check with the high school for their policies.
  • Students and their families are responsible for tuition costs above 1.2 combined high school and college FTE. For a student taking a full load at the college (15 credits) he/she might be eligible to be in only one class in their high school. It is the student and family responsibility to understand these limitations and carefully plan his/her educational program.
  • College classes are designed for adult learners. Contemporary issues of our society will be actively discussed in our classrooms. The content of classes will not be censored for younger students.
  • The high school determines students’ eligibility to be involved in high school activities. Being away from the high school might mean that students are out of the loop for some things, such as activity requirements or scholarship application deadlines.
  • The program is not free. Tuition is covered up to 1.2 combined high school and college FTE over fall, winter, and spring quarters. Students must pay for mandatory college fees, books, online course fees, campus parking, gas, supplies, and other related costs. Students wishing to enroll in summer courses must receive permission from the Registrar’s Office and pay full tuition.
  • Students start a college transcript when they take their first college class. It will stay with them throughout their college careers. If students perform poorly, it may jeopardize future college plans. These grades will transfer back to the high school transcript as well.
  • There is much less contact between colleges and parents than the high schools and parents.
  • College offers a much less structured environment with more independent study required. The speed at which college classes are taught is much faster than classes in high school. College classes typically demand approximately 2 hours of homework for each hour of class, with no classroom time for homework.
  • Communication concerning grades and attendance is more frequent in high schools.

Tuition, Fees, and Other Costs

  • Students may take up to 15 tuition-free credits per quarter (fall, winter, and spring).
  • The number of tuition-free credits a student is eligible for depends on how many classes the student takes at the public high school.
  • Students may enroll in additional credits, but are required to pay the remaining tuition.
  • Students are responsible for technology and course fees. Course fees range depending on what course the student enrolls in. A listing of course fees is available here: www.cwu.edu/registrar/courses-additional-fees.
  • Students are responsible for paying for testing, textbooks, transportation, and other supplies.

Testing Fee Waiver and Book Loan Program

The Running Start office can waive testing fees and provide loaned books to eligible low-income students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students are required to return loaned textbooks to the Running Start office at the end of each quarter. The Running Start program will do its best to help students with at least one textbook a quarter. However, books are not guaranteed due to limited funding and textbook availability. Books that cannot be reused are not purchased.

Running Start students must meet one of the following criteria to qualify:

  • Family receives public assistance (example: SSI, TANF, Basic Food/QUEST, Washington State medical coupons).
  • Student is eligible to receive free or reduced lunch at their school district, or has been eligible within the last five years.
  • Student is a foster youth.
  • Student’s primary caregiver is currently receiving unemployment

For more information, visit us at www.cwu.edu/runningstart/new-students or call 509-963-1351.