Education Law

Chart: State Laws on Ages When Children Must Attend School

By E.A. Gjelten, Author and Editor
Learn the rules in your state on when children must start school and when they can drop out.

The chart below shows the ages when children must attend school in each state, as well as the relevant statutes. If students drop out or have too many absences when they’re still covered by their state’s compulsory education laws, they (and their parents) risk facing fines or criminal penalties for truancy. (See our article on absenteeism and truancy for more on that. And see our article on dropping out of school for more on the consequences of leaving school without a diploma).

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 (as long as that limit is below the majority age in the state). Follow the links below to find more information about your state's requirements or to read the actual statutes. Because the laws can change at any time, you should check to make sure that the age limits shown in this chart are still current. (If you don't see a link for your state, check back later; this site is still under construction.)

State

Statute

Must Begin at Age

May Drop Out at Age

Alabama

Ala. Code § 16-28-1 et seq.

6

17

Alaska

Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010 et seq.

7

16

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 15-801 et seq.

6

16

Arkansas

Ark. Stat. Ann. § 6-18-201 et seq.

5

17

California

Cal. Educ. Code § 48200 et seq.

6

18

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-101 et seq.

6

17

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-184 et seq.

5

18

Delaware

14 Del. Code Ann. § 2701 et seq.

5

16

Florida

Fla. Stat. § 1003.21 et seq.

6

16

Georgia

Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690 et seq.

6

16

Hawaii

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302A-1132

5

18

Idaho

Idaho Code § 33-201 et seq.

7

16

Illinois

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

6

17

Indiana

Ind. Code Ann. § 20-33-2-1 et seq.

7

18

Iowa

Iowa Code § 299.1 et seq.

6

16

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72-1111

7

18

Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159.010 et seq.

6

16

Louisiana

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:221 et seq.

7

18

Maine

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

7

17

Maryland

Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 7-301 et seq.

5

18

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 76, § 1

6

*

Michigan

Mich. Stat. Ann. § 380.1561 et seq.

6

18

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. § 120A.20 et seq.

7

17

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-80 et seq.

6

17

Missouri

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 167.031

7

17

Montana

Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-101 et seq.

7

16

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 79-201 et seq.

6

18

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 392.040 et seq.

7

18

New Hampshire

N. H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 193:1 et seq.

6

18

New Jersey

N. J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:38-25 et seq.

6

16

New Mexico

N. M. Stat. Ann. §§ 22-8-2, 22-12-1 et seq.

5

18

New York

N. Y. Educ. Law § 3201 et seq.

6

16

North Carolina

N. C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-378 et seq.

7

16

North Dakota

N. D. Cent. Code § 15.1-20-01 et seq.

7

16

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3321.01 et seq.

6

18

Oklahoma

Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 10-105

5

18

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. § 339.010 et seq.

6

18

Pennsylvania

24 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 13-1325 et seq.

8

17

Rhode Island

R. I. Gen. Laws § 16-19-1 et seq.

6

18

South Carolina

S. C. Code Ann. § 59-65-10 et seq.

5

17

South Dakota

S. D. Codified Laws § 13-27-1 et seq.

6

18

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3001 et seq.

6

18

Texas

Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 25.085 et seq.

6

19

Utah

Utah Code Ann. § 53A-11-101 et seq.

6

18

Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 1121 et seq.

6

16

Virginia

Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-254 et seq.

5

18

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code § 28A.225.005 et seq.

8

18

Washington, D.C.

D. C. Code Ann. § 38-201 et seq.

5

18

West Virginia

W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 et seq.

6

17

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. § 118.15

6

18

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 21-4-101 et seq.

7

16

*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.

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