Education maintenance allowance

An EMA is a payment of £30 per week, paid directly into your bank account if you stay on in school, college or in home education after your official school leaving date.

Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) are part of the Scottish Government's agenda of encouraging access to, and participation in, further and higher education by young people from low-income families. These allowances are financial support for 16-19 year olds who stay on in full time non-advanced education after their statutory school leaving date (i.e. those continuing in post-compulsory education).

Aberdeen City Council pay EMAs, on behalf of the Scottish Government, to eligible school students. 

To be eligible for an EMA in 2023/24 the student must:

  • Have been born between 1 March 2004 and 29 February 2008
  • Have a household income of £26,884 or below (for families with more than one dependent child in the household)* or
  • Have a household income of £24,421 or below (for families with a single dependent child in the household).
  • Be in full-time non-advanced education (up to SVQ level 3).

* Dependent children are all those up to the age of 16 and those over the age of 16 and up to the age of 25 if they are still in full-time education.

If you are an independent young person (i.e. receiving education while living in a foster home or children's home and are in the care of the local authority, or are living independently in receipt of Income Support or Income-Based Employment Support and Allowance), you are eligible for an EMA award without having to provide evidence of household income.

Following assessment of the application, weekly payments will be paid at £30.

Students become eligible for an EMA in August if they turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September and in January if they turn 16 between 1 October and end of February. Eligibility is reassessed each academic year.

  • The start date of EMA payments is dependent on the date of your sixteenth birthday. If you are 16 on or before 30 September 2023 and we receive your application before 30 September 2023 we will pay your EMA from August 2023.
  • If you are 16 between 1 October 2023 and 29 February 2024 and we receive your application before 29 February 2024 we will pay your EMA from January 2024.
  • Applications received after the dates shown above will not be backdated. EMA will be paid from the start of the week in which we receive your application.
  • Please note that the final date for all completed education maintenance allowance application forms is 31 March 2024. No application will be accepted or processed after this date.

Note: The Scottish Ministers reserve the right to review the EMA programme at any time.

How to apply

You can apply for an education maintenance allowance online.

Contact us

If you have any queries regarding Education Maintenance Allowance, please email

Frequently asked questions

Those born between 01/03/2004 and 30/09/2007 can receive the 2023/24 EMA from August 2023. 
Those born between 01/10/2007 and 29/02/2008 can receive the 2023/24 EMA from January 2024. 
The household income assessed for EMA purposes is the same as that used by the Inland Revenue for assessing Tax Credits (i.e. gross taxable household income). To be paid an EMA by Aberdeen City Council you must have a bank account in your own name and attend an Aberdeen City area school. Students must be ordinarily resident in the UK. Generally this relates to the qualifying date and the 3 years immediately before.

For those eligible for a full year award the application must be submitted by 30 September. If you are eligible for an EMA from January then the form should be submitted by 28 February. No applications will be accepted after 31 March. 

An EMA Learning Agreement is an agreement between a pupil and the school that details the learning that will be offered and the responsibilities of both parties in attaining this.

Yes – payment of your EMA can be withheld if your school attendance falls below 100% in any one week. Lateness can also affect payments. If Learning Agreement conditions are not met, then your EMA may also be withheld.

If you do not receive the amount you expect on a pay day, contact your school or activity coach. 

You will be able to get an EMA for three years, as long as your family income does not rise above the £26,884 a year threshold and you are still attending secondary school.

No, you will only be paid for the weeks that you attend school. In-service is not considered as a holiday for EMA purposes and payment can be still made for any such days, providing 100% attendance is met for the rest of that week.

Yes. You must submit an appeal within one month of being notified of our decision to refuse your application for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). You must state the reason for the appeal and submit any relevant additional evidence or information to
We will endeavour to respond to appeals within 14 days of submission and we will contact you to request any further information if necessary. 

If you change schools within Aberdeen City area during term time, you must tell us so we can send you a new learning agreement.

If you move to a school outside of Aberdeen City area, or to a college, you must make a new application to the new local authority or the college.

When establishing what benefits should be taken into account when calculating eligibility to receive EMA, the Scottish Government follows the same criteria as set by HM Revenue and Customs for calculating Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

When determining pensions in relation to household income, taxable income of the pension should be included in the household income. Non-taxable elements would be excluded. Please see HMRC website.

For ease of reference, the following table states which benefits should, and should not, be included when calculating household income for the purposes of EMA. The HMRC website also details areas which should and should not be taxed.

Did you find what you were looking for?

Status message

Please note, this form is anonymous, we can't reply directly to your feedback. If you would like to report an issue, make a complaint or suggestion, please Contact Us.