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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.

  1. In the state of Michigan the age out age is 26, I wonder when the academic requirements drop off and life skill curriculum is the main focus for cogitive impaired students

    • Colleen, Transition plans need to be designed to meet each student’s needs – they should not be “one-size-fits-all” plans where academic requirements “drop off” or life skills “are the main focus” for a category of students. “Cognitive impaired students” are not identical – they have different interests, strengths, preferences, priorities.

      An IEP team cannot develop a legally correct transition plan until they have transition assessments, so transition assessments are the first step.

      The child’s IEP team, including the parent, must select tests and assessments to clarify the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests.

      IDEA defines transition services as services that “focus on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school” to life after school “including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated or supported employment. adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation…” (See “Definitions” in
      Section 1401, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, page 56)

      Good transition planning can make a positive difference in your child’s life, so parents and teachers need to learn about transition planning. I am attaching links to a few articles to help you see how the transition process SHOULD work. Feel free to share this info with your child’s IEP team.

      1. Transition Planning: Setting Lifelong Goals – This article provides advice and checklists to help your child make a successful transition from school to employment or further education at

      2. Transition Assessments: Measuring Interests and Aptitudes – Finding a Direction at

      3. Why You Need to Begin Transition Planning Early at

      4. Legal Requirements for Transition Plans, Goals, Services and Timelines at

      Good luck!
      Pam Wright

  2. My student is 18 with LD and OHI. I feel pressure for her to graduate High
    School next spring. There is talk of sending her to a nearby school with a vocation program. I objected to this last IEP Meeting. They treated it as a done deal. What can I do to stop this process in Fl.

  3. I am in NJ and my son, who turned 21 on July 26, is getting an extra year of schooling.

    The fiscal year for NJ schools is July 1 through June 30. If your child was born in July or August he or she may be entitled an extra year.

    The education entitlement ends at the end of the fiscal school year in which your child turns 21
    For instance, if your child is born June 29th his/her school entitlement will end June 30 of that same year. The same applies for a child born between September 1 and June 30.

    Please check with your district before taking my word for this.

  4. Just to clarify – IDEA rights, (i.e., your child’s IEP) do not follow your child into college.

    IEPs are based on IDEA 2004 which only applies to public schools, not higher education. When your child graduates from high school with a regular diploma or reaches the age of 22, his entitlement to rights under IDEA ends.

    Post-secondary schools have no obligation to create a document like the IEP and there is no protection under IDEA. But post-secondary schools are subject to Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    We have much information on Wrightslaw that will help you know what to expect and understand your child’s rights. Use these links:

    How Can I Get My Son’s IEP Updated for College?

    Help! My son with LD graduates. Who will write his 504 when he loses his IEP?

    College Accommodations: What are My Child’s Rights?

    Protecting Students with Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education

    College: Continuing and Higher Education

    Transition, Transition Services, Transition Planning

  5. I might suggest that one with a disability never ages out of the academic setting. Usually if a student has an IEP in High School it transfers (Student/Family does the leg work to alert & provide documentation) to college in the form of accommodations from the Office of Disabilities. Interesting (sad note) my child signed a release for me to be involved in this accommodations meeting etc. As soon as l expressed a concern regarding the lack of accommodations in the Nursing Program.
    We were directed to the Office of Admissions to sign a FERPA release as well…My child said everything was not necessary until we challenged a test, & lack of accommodations.

  6. 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.

    • How can I find out when entitlement ends in the state of California (LAUSD). I can’t seem to find anything that specifies the end date on the internet. My child turns 22 next November however the school says his schooling will end in June. It seems he should be eligible for summer school since it’s technically the end of the school calendar. Many thanks.

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