No quantitative studies to date have specifically focused on the risk and protective factors for the educational resilience of socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescents who are not of compulsory school age in South Africa. This study compares the educational delay of 599 black adolescents aged 16 to 18 from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in Western Cape and Mpumalanga to nationally and provincially representative estimates in South Africa. The paper also explores predictors for educational delay by comparing out-of-school adolescents (n = 64), and adolescents who are at least one year behind in school (n = 380), with adolescents in the age-appropriate grade or higher (n = 155). Risk factors for being behind included the following: male gender, past grade repetition, rural location and larger school size. Risk factors for being out of school were the following: past grade repetition, previous concentration problems at school, household poverty, and food insecurity. Protective factors for being in the age-appropriate grade included the following: living with biological caregivers, access to school counselling and attending schools in wealthier communities.