What Can You Do When You Turn 18 Years Old in the USA?

By Anne Cagle
Kati Neudert/iStock/Getty Images

Turning 18 in America gives you more freedoms but also more responsibilities. You become a young adult when you turn 18 and you have more rights but also greater obligations with this age.

Benefits

18 year olds have the right to vote.

When you turn 18, you are eligible to vote, unless you have been convicted of a felony. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified on July 1, 1971, gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. Before this amendment, there was a patchwork of laws across the nation. At 18, you are also able to get married or divorced. This right, however, may vary from state to state.

Responsibilities

Military enlistees in front of American flag.

The American government requires men between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for the military draft. If you do not register for the draft with Selective Service, you may be ineligible for federal student loans and grants, federal job training, federal jobs or security clearance as a contractor or U.S. citizenship. Registration is voluntary for women.

Considerations

Pile of credit cards.

When you are 18, you are eligible to sign legal contracts such as credit cards, housing and bank accounts. You are also legally and financially responsible for your contracts.

About the Author

Anne Cagle has been writing ever since she was a toddler who could scribble with crayons. Her first published article, at age 12, was in a teachers' newsletter. She was published in "Optical Prism" magazine and has worked as a reviewer for the Webby Awards. She holds a degree in English from the University of Oregon.