Education maintenance allowances

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).

To be eligible for an EMA in 2017/2018 the student must:

  • Have been born between 1 March 1998 and 28 February 2002.
  • 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 Contributions-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.

  • To be eligible for weekly payments the student must complete a learning agreement with the school.
  • Payments are made fortnightly in arrears to the student's bank account depending on attendance and compliance with the requirements of their learning agreement.

An application form and guidance notes be downloaded from the link at the bottom of the page. Application forms are also available from schools, Marischal College Reception and Customer Access Points in Woodside, Kincorth and Mastrick. Completed forms should be sent to the address shown on the front of the application form.

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

Contact details

Moyra Forbes
Education Maintenance Allowances
Business Hub 13
2nd Floor North 
Marischal College 
Broad Street 
AB10 1AB
01224 52 38 98
Fax: 01224 52 20 22

Frequently asked questions

Aberdeen City Council pay EMAs, on behalf of the Scottish Government, to eligible school students who have reached their statutory school leaving date and are continuing in non-advanced full-time education. 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.

Only young people who live in a household where the total gross income is less than £26,884 a year, and who are attending a full time non advanced course, are eligible for an Education Maintenance Allowance. Students who are ‘Independent’ may also be eligible.(see note above)

Those born between 01/03/1998 and 30/09/2001 can receive the 2017/2018 EMA from August 2017(apply now). Those born between 01/10/2001 and 28/02/2002 can receive the 2017/2018 EMA from January 2018. 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.

You need to get an application form from the school, complete and send or hand to EMA office along with birth certificate or passport, income evidence for last tax year and lone parent evidence (if applicable). Application forms are also available from Marischal College Reception and Customer Access Points in Mastrick, Kincorth and Woodside.

Application forms are usually available from May. 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.

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.

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.

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