Legislation sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) to eliminate fees for College in the High School programs passed the Senate Wednesday on a unanimous vote.

Senate Bill 5048 would eliminate fees associated with College in the High School classes to make them free for all students.

College in the High School dual-credit programs are an opportunity for high school students to take college courses in their own high school and get both high school and college credit for them. The program is similar to Running Start, but the classes take place in the high school by a specially certified teacher instead of expecting students to travel to a college campus in the middle of their school day. These programs accelerate and enhance student success — a benefit that extends well beyond the individual to businesses and households throughout the community. Additionally, every college credit a student can get in high school saves them money on their college costs down the road.

“College in the High School is a great program that as many kids as possible should be able to access, but I don’t think it’s fair for students in high school to have to pay for their classes,” Mullet said. “Charging for these courses just worsens the divide between rich and poor students. The 5th Legislative District has some of the biggest College in the High School programs in the state, so this bill will have an especially large impact on our local community.”

The percentage of students in dual-credit programs in Issaquah, Snoqualmie, Riverview and Tahoma high schools is among the highest in the state, with Tahoma having as one of the largest College in the High School programs in the region.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.