Research

State Laws on Ages When Children Must Attend School

By E.A. Gjelten, Author and Editor
Learn the compulsory education requirements in your state—when children must start school and when they can drop out legally.

The chart below shows the ages in each state when children must start attending school, when they may drop out legally, and the relevant statutes. If students drop out early or have too many absences when they’re still covered by their state’s compulsory education laws, they (and their parents) risk facing penalties for truancy, including fines, juvenile court proceedings, or even criminal charges for parents.

This chart is a rough guide. Almost all states have exceptions to the age limits. Many allow students to drop out at different ages if they meet certain conditions, and some require parental permission to leave school even when the student has reached the upper age limit. (Learn more about when you can drop out of school.) Follow the links below to find details about some state's requirements. Because states can change their laws at any time, it's always a good idea to check the current statutes through this guide to state laws from the Library of Congress.

State

Ages

Statute

Alabama

6-17

Ala. Code § 16-28-3

Alaska

7-16

Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010

Arizona

6-16

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 15-803

Arkansas

5-17

Ark. Stat. Ann. § 6-18-201

California

6-18

Cal. Educ. Code § 48200

Colorado

6-17

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104

Connecticut

5-18

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-184

Delaware

5-16

14 Del. Code Ann. § 2702

Florida

6-16

Fla. Stat. § 1003.21

Georgia

6-16

Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690.1

Hawaii

5-18

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302A-1132

Idaho

7-16

Idaho Code § 33-202

Illinois

6-17

105 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/26-1

Indiana

7-18

Ind. Code Ann. § 20-33-2-6

Iowa

6-16

Iowa Code § 299.1A

Kansas

7-18

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72-3120

Kentucky

6-16

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159.010

Louisiana

7-18

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:221

Maine

7-17

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A

Maryland

5-18

Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 7-301

Massachusetts

6-*

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 76, § 1; 603 Mass. Code Regs. 802

Michigan

6-18

Mich. Stat. Ann. § 380.1561

Minnesota

7-17

Minn. Stat. § 120A.22

Mississippi

6-17

Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91

Missouri

7-17*

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 167.031

Montana

7-16

Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-102

Nebraska

6-18

Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 79-201

Nevada

7-18

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 392.040

New Hampshire

6-18

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 193:1

New Jersey

6-16

N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:38-25

New Mexico

5-18

N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 22-8-2, 22-12-2

New York

6-16

N.Y. Educ. Law § 3205

North Carolina

7-16

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-378

North Dakota

7-16

N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-20-01

Ohio

6-18

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3321.01

Oklahoma

5-18

Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 10-105

Oregon

6-18

Or. Rev. Stat. § 339.010

Pennsylvania

8-17

24 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 13-1326

Rhode Island

6-18

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-19-1

South Carolina

5-17

S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-10

South Dakota

6-18

S.D. Codified Laws § 13-27-1

Tennessee

6-18

Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3001

Texas

6-19

Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 25.085

Utah

6-18

Utah Code Ann. § 53G-6-201

Vermont

6-16

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 1121

Virginia

5-18

Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-254

Washington

8-18

Wash. Rev. Code § 28A.225.010

Washington, D.C.

5-18

D. C. Code Ann. § 38-202

West Virginia

6-17

W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 et seq.

Wisconsin

6-18

Wis. Stat. § 118.15

Wyoming

7-16

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 21-4-102

*Note that Massachusetts directs local school boards to set the minimum and maximum ages for mandatory attendance in their school districts, but the minimum age must be at least six. In Missouri, metropolitan school districts may lower the legal drop out age to 16.

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