IAASE recently reported that HB 3897 is currently making its way through the Illinois legislative process. This bill would expand special education eligibility to students through the school year in which they turn 22. Currently, students who have not yet received a diploma are eligible for services through the day before their 22nd birthday. Note that federal funding does not cover students beyond the age of 21.

We wondered, how many students would this impact and what are other states doing?

How many students would receive additional services? According to ISBE data, 306 students aged out during the 2018-2019 school year. If this bill were in effect last year, those students would have been entitled to continue to receive transition services and complete the school year.

What are other states doing? We found a 2007 OSEP memo that detailed the ages of eligibility for all 50 states. As of 2007, six states and the District of Columbia provided for students to continue to receive FAPE after their 22nd birthdays, some through the end of that semester and some through the end of that school year or beyond. We also identified exit data from the Department of Education for the 2016-2017 school year. Based on the eligibility ages each state reported there, six additional states provided FAPE to students during the semester or school year of their 22nd birthdays. Accordingly, extending eligibility beyond the age of 21 is becoming more common but continues to be the law in a minority of states.

The bill did not move during the veto session but likely will move forward in the spring. You can reach out to your state representative to voice your opinion with respect to this proposed law.