What Does Age of Majority Mean?

“The age of majority is the legally defined age at which a person is considered an adult, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities of adulthood. The age of majority is defined by state laws, which vary by state” (U.S. Legal.com, n.d.).  Thus, when people use the term age of majority, they are generally referring to when a young person reaches the age where one is considered to be an adult. Depending upon your state law, this usually happens at some point between 18 and 21.

At this juncture in a child’s life, the state may transfer to that child all (or some of) the educational rights that the parents have had up to the moment. Not all states transfer rights at age of majority.

On This Page

  • What does age of majority mean?
  • Age of Majority where you live
  • IDEA’s exact words
  • What IDEA requires
  • How is the student informed?
  • Tips to Help Prepare for Adulthood
  • Age of Majority, least to most restrictive
  • A Guide through the 6 Domains of Adulthood

The age of majority is 18 in most areas, except three states. Alabama and Nebraska set the age of majority to 19 and Mississippi sets it at 21.

But if your state does, then the rights and responsibilities that parents have had under IDEA with respect to their child’s education will belong to that child at the age of majority.

Beginning at least one year before the student reaches the age of majority the IEP must include a statement that the student has received notice and been told about the rights (if any) that will transfer to him or her at age of majority under §300.520.

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IDEA’s Exact Words

The relevant IEP-related provision within IDEA requires the following:

(c) Transfer of rights at age of majority. Beginning not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law, the IEP must include a statement that the child has been informed of the child’s rights under Part B of the Act, if any, that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority under §300.520. [§300.320(c)]

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African-American teen with down syndrome being assisted with homework by mother

What Does §300.520 Requires

The text of §300.520 is provided below.

§ 300.520 Transfer of parental rights at age of majority.

(a) General. A State may provide that, when a child with a disability reaches the age of majority under State law that applies to all children (except for a child with a disability who has been determined to be incompetent under State law)—

(1)(i) The public agency must provide any notice required by this part to both the child and the parents; and

(ii) All rights accorded to parents under Part B of the Act transfer to the child;

(2) All rights accorded to parents under Part B of the Act transfer to children who are incarcerated in an adult or juvenile, State or local correctional institution; and

(3) Whenever a State provides for the transfer of rights under this part pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section, the agency must notify the child and the parents of the transfer of rights.

(b) Special rule. A State must establish procedures for appointing the parent of a child with a disability, or, if the parent is not available, another appropriate individual, to represent the educational interests of the child throughout the period of the child’s eligibility under Part B of the Act if, under State law, a child who has reached the age of majority, but has not been determined to be incompetent, can be determined not to have the ability to provide informed consent with respect to the child’s educational program.

While these provisions may appear redundant with §300.320(c), they actually aren’t. These provisions relate to informing both the child and the parents of any transfer of rights that has occurred when the child has reached the age of majority in the state; the provision at §300.320(c) stipulates in the IEP that, not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority, he or she was informed of any rights that will transfer upon reaching that age.

Moreover, the provisions at §300.520 fall under the umbrella of “Procedural Safeguards” and include the “special rule” for children who have reached the age of majority but who do not have the ability to provide informed consent with respect to their educational programs (although they have not been determined to be incompetent). By state-designed procedures, the educational interests of these children would continue to be represented by the children’s parents during the entire time of their eligibility under Part B of IDEA. Should the parent of such a child not be available, another individual would be appointed to represent the child’s educational interests.

So, while this special rule relates directly to the transfer of rights to the child at age of majority, it also serves an exception to the transfer of such rights.

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How is the Student Informed?

IDEA does not specify the manner in which schools must inform students of any rights that will transfer to them upon reaching the age of majority. This is a matter “best left to States, districts, and IEP Teams to decide, based on their knowledge of the child and any unique local or State requirements.” (71 Fed. Reg. at 46668)



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Tips to Help Prepare for Adulthood (by Developmental Stage)

Do you know when you should begin to prepare for adulthood? Do you want to learn about additional skills to develop so the transition to adulthood is smooth?

Then you have come to the right place.

Transition planning can start as early as you like but it’s never too late to start!! Create a vision for the future by exploring interests, values, and goals. Work collaboratively with the school to create a transition plan that should address support in six key areas: Education/Training or Employment, Independent or Supported Living, Healthcare, Transportation, Finance and Community Participation. Remember, the transition to adulthood can be both exciting and challenging. Being well-prepared and understanding the available support systems will make this journey smoother for both young adults with IDD and their families.

Early Childhood to Elementary School

Early Childhood to elementary school is a crucial time to foster foundational skills that lay the groundwork for future adult skills. Here’s a list of resources and skills that can be nurtured during this stage to help children develop essential competencies for adulthood. 

Middle School

Middle School is a critical time for adolescents to develop skills that will prepare them for adulthood. Here are some essential skills that middle schoolers can focus on to develop adult capabilities.  

High School

High school is a crucial time for teenagers to further develop skills that will prepare them for adulthood and independence. Here are some essential skills that high schoolers can focus on to develop adult capabilities.  

After High School

After High School there are several crucial skills they can focus on developing to navigate the challenges and responsibilities of independent living. Here are some essential adult skills for after high school.

Preparing for Age of Majority

Preparing for Age of Majority

When a person enters adulthood, the rights and duties parents once held are transferred to the youth.  Legally, individuals are deemed adults when they reach the age of 18 (*states or territories may vary).

As a parent you may wonder what options are available now that decisions you once held as a parent are transferred to your child.

As a young adult entering adulthood you may ask, what if you don’t feel quite ready to handle the responsibilities of overseeing your education, healthcare, finance, etc?  Do you still have a voice in your life while others support you? 

 The shift into adulthood carries significant ramifications. Below are some essential considerations to ponder.

Self Determination

Self-Determination involves setting goals and taking actions to achieve those goals based on preferences, values, and interests.

Supported Decision Making

Supported Decision Making is a process where a person seeks support to make life decisions. All people need support when making decisions that are difficult or risky for them.

Person Centered Planning

Person Centered Planning is an ongoing planning, problem-solving, and decision making process that places the person at the center, driving development.

Power of Attorney (Limited and Full)

Power of Attorney (Limited and Full) is a legal document that grants someone the authority to act on someone's behalf in financial, legal, or other specified matters. Options include limited, full or durable power of attorney.


Conservatorship is a legal mechanism designed to safeguard the interests of vulnerable individuals, but it also raises important ethical and practical considerations regarding autonomy, dignity, and rights.


Guardianship is when a person appointed by a court to make decisions about the personal well-being of an incapacitated adult.

A Guide through the 6 Domains of Adulthood 

Shouldn’t everyone have a voice in big life decisions about where they live, how they get around, what they learn about, how they spend money, their healthcare, etc?  

Most, if not all, young adults need assistance as they enter adulthood.  Reaching the age of majority, typically at 18 (*states or territories may vary), marks an important transition into adulthood. It grants individuals decision-making over parts of their lives such as housing, transportation, education, finance, or healthcare. This next section provides tips and resources as they navigate these critical phases of adulthood, helping them and their family chart their path with confidence, determination, and support.

education / employment





    community living


    Housing for individuals with special needs is crucial for several reasons, as it plays a significant role in promoting their well-being, independence, and overall quality of life. It is essential for creating a supportive and inclusive environment that enhances their overall well-being and allows them to lead fulfilling lives. It is a critical aspect of promoting equality, dignity, and independence for people with diverse abilities.


    What are the transportation options for people who need assistance driving, taking the bus or who can not do either?  Transportation is a critical aspect of daily life, and ensuring that it is accessible and accommodating for individuals with special needs is essential.

    person in wheelchair in subway platform waiting for train


    Health care transition is the process of changing from a pediatric to an adult model of health care.  This is an important time for young adults as there are significant differences between adult and pediatric health care. 


    Education is important for people with disabilities because it helps them learn what they need to live independently. It gives them skills and confidence to be more independent, like getting a job, making friends, and feeling like they belong. When we make sure people with disabilities get a good education and transition planning is implemented, we invest in education for individuals with disabilities; we not only empower them to reach their full potential but also create a more equitable and inclusive society for all.

    Community Living

    Community living fosters independence, social integration, and feeling part of a larger community for individuals with disabilities. Residing within a community enables individuals with disabilities to engage in daily activities, interact with peers, and cultivate meaningful connections. Moreover, it offers avenues for personal development, autonomy, and access to essential support systems and facilities.


    Finances for people with disabilities help them afford things like special equipment or home changes that make life easier and safer. Enough money means they can also pay for important healthcare needs, like doctor visits and medicine. When financially stable, they can choose jobs or activities that make them happy and independent. Saving money for the future is also really important so they can keep getting the support they need as time goes on.


    U.S. Legal.com. (n.d.). Age of majority law and legal definition. Retrieved November 10, 2017 from the USLegal.com website.

    Current as of April 2024