When Can You Drop Out of School in Michigan?

By E.A. Gjelten, Author and Editor
Learn how you can legally drop out in Michigan before you turn 18.

Under Michigan's "compulsory education” law, children between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend full-time school until they graduate from high school. But there are exceptions. Below is a summary of the state’s requirements for staying in school, dropping out, and getting high school equivalency diplomas.

Requirements for Dropping Out Legally

Michigan law requires students to attend public or private school until they’re 18 years old, unless they’ve fulfilled the requirements for high school graduation. However, Michigan students who are 16 or 17 may drop out legally with their parents’ written permission.

Homeschooling qualifies for the attendance requirement. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1561 (2019).)

Costs of Dropping Out

Dropping out of school is likely to bring financial consequences down the road, no matter how old you were when you quit. But unless you're old enough to drop out legally, you could face more immediate consequences for truancy. Among other possible penalties, students who are habitually absent without valid excuses will be sent to special schools for “disorderly” juveniles (Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1596 (2019)).

High School Equivalency Tests

Dropouts may receive a high school equivalency certificate or diploma if they pass the GED test. Under the Michigan GED requirements, former students who are at least 16 years old and have been out of regular school for a calendar year may take the test. (The one-year waiting requirement may be waived in certain circumstances.) However, successful test takers won’t receive the certificate until they’re 18 and their former high school class has graduated, unless they’re graduates of the Michigan National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program.

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