Aging Out: AT WHAT AGE DO YOUNG ADULTS AGE OUT OF SCHOOL?

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Sher: Is there a ‘federal age’ for aging out of school? Here in NJ it’s 21, but people in other states have told me I’m mistaken – that it’s 22.

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Sher –

Under IDEA, the federal special education law, eligible students have an entitlement to special education from age 3 to 21, inclusive. This means from their 3rd birthday until the day before their 22nd birthday – most people just say 3 to 22, so this may be some of the confusion.

IDEA, however, provides a major caveat for children ages 18 to 21 (and a similar one for those age 3 to 5). For these children, IDEA essentially defers to state law regarding when a student “ages out.”

Most states end eligibility sometime in the 21st year, though differ in exactly when in the year their entitlement ends. Some end entitlement at the end of the semester after a student turns 21, some at the end of the school year when the student turns 21, some end it the day before the student turns 22, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some states use other standards. Make sense?

Some states end entitlement even earlier (I think Hawaii is 19 and Maine 20), and one state (Michigan) sets it at 25.

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