New Tampa resident Quinn Ignatowicz made national headlines this week for earning college credit following his performance on a college-level exam. He's 11, and his performance on the test came just a few weeks after he finished fifth grade.

The College Board, a national not-for-profit that helps students prepare for college, named Quinn, his father, Lance, and his brother Payton their 2018 “Most Unique Student Success Story”  related to the College Level Examination Program – or CLEP.

“It just amazed me that I was able to finish and pass it,” Quinn said of the moment he saw his score.

Not only did he pass — his score tied with his dad's score.

Lance Ignatowicz said it all started when he was looking for ways 14-year-old Payton could earn college credit.

“I wanted my kids to have an opportunity to go to college without having to pay for a full four years of college,” Ignatowicz said. “So, CLEP was a way of shortening not just their time in school, but also lowering what their debt would be.”

Quinn wanted in.

“It seemed like a challenge for me, and I wanted to compete with my brother,” he said.

Preparing for success

The family studied together for weeks – preparing online through the Modern States Education Alliance, a non-profit that offers college courses free of cost. They also took practice tests until they felt ready for the CLEP.

“Typical testers that we see are more the mature student or from the community,” said Michael Childs, coordinator for Pasco-Hernando State College’s East Campus Academic Success Center, where the family took the test.

“You’re kind of shocked,” he said of seeing Quinn walk in. “You hope that you’re not setting someone up for failure on that.”

Turns out that wasn’t an issue.

“It’s phenomenal in how well he did on that particular test. You go, ‘This guy is very smart,’” Childs said.

Childs said CLEP exams are offered in a variety of subjects five days a week at three of PHSC’s campuses. He said they come with an $87 fee and a $20 school fee – a fraction of the cost of a typical college class.

The Ignatowicz family was able to take the exams for free through a voucher from Modern States. 

“The opportunity to get college credits with no expenses and to save 14 weeks of your time instead of taking a course, it’s pretty valuable. I don’t think enough people know about it,” said Ignatowicz.

Earning more credits?

PHSC officials said they agree. The school said about 150 people take CLEP exams through them annually, but they’d like to see that number increase.

Childs said the exams are open to anyone in the community and can benefit students who just need a few credits to earn their degree or who can’t yet afford a typical college class.

“I can see how it can positively affect the students and how it opens up dreams for them to complete their degree,” Childs said.

Lance Ignatowicz said he thinks the exam was a positive experience for his family.

“Very proud of them, and most importantly is they seem to gain a lot of confidence by doing these,” he said of his sons. “Once they passed it and they saw they could do it, now they’re doing other courses.”

Quinn is studying for more CLEP exams, but college is still years away. He’s in sixth grade at Turner/Bartels K-8 and has earned a total of nine college credits through both the CLEP test and other online courses.

He does have advice for others who are preparing for CLEP exams.

“Just keep going, and don’t give up,” Quinn said.

For more information on the CLEP exam at PHSC, visit