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25,030 Young Scots Received Education Maintenance Allowance  Payments Last Year

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a means tested award which provides financial support for young people aged 16 to 19 years from low-income households who wish to continue in education.

Local authorities and colleges administer the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government. .A weekly payment of £30 is made to a young person and is subject to attendance and agreement of a learning plan. The average payment per EMA recipient was £882 in 2020-21.

During the Covid lockdown in 2020 very few students attended schools and colleges in person. This affected how the payments being made were recorded. The 2019-20 spend reported by Scotland’s Learning Directorate in the publication “Education Maintenance Allowances: 2020-21” is lower than the actual spend on EMA in that lockdown period.

In 2020-21 there were 25,030 young people who received EMA  payments.

  • 72% were school pupils
  • 24% were college students
  • 4% were on activity agreements

15.2% of all Scottish young people aged 16-18 were in receipt of EMA in 2020-21. There has been a downward trend in those receiving the award since 2016.

The majority of the young Scots who are awarded an EMA are 16 years of age with about a third of them 17, and only a very few 18.

The fall in the 18 year old age group could be because colleges moved from providing EMA payments to bursaries for eligible 18-year old college students.

The total spend on EMA in 2020-21 was £22.1 million:

  • £16.8 million school students (76% of total payments)
  • £4.6 million on college payments (21%)
  • £0.6 million on activity agreements (3%).

To qualify, households with one dependent child must be earning £24,421 per year or less, and households with more than one dependent child must be earning £26,884 or less, before tax.

If you qualify for an EMA, you need to apply direct to your school (through the local council) or college. Click on this link for more information: Apply for or renew EMA

Link: Orkney Islands Council, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

  • If you are eligible to receive EMA payments from August, you should submit your application by 30 September in order to have your payments backdated to the start of term.
  • If you are eligible from January, you should submit your application by 28 February in order to have your payments backdated to the start of term.

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