Education Maintenance Allowance

Updated 3 July 2023

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme provides financial support for 16-19 year olds - from low income families - who stay on in full time, non-advanced education after their statutory school leaving date. 

To be eligible for EMA, total household income must fall within the required thresholds as stated below:

Total household income No. of dependent children in the household Award
£0 - £24,421 1 £30
£0 - £26,884 2+ £30

The scheme is part of the Scottish Government’s agenda [opens in a new window] of encouraging access to, and participation in, further and higher education by young people from low-income families.

The EMA is a weekly allowance of £30 payable to eligible young people who have achieved 100% attendance per week.  It is payable in arrears, generally on a two weekly basis.

The EMA Policy document is available and provides more information regarding EMA, including eligibility criteria. You can also read our FAQs to help answer some questions you may have regarding this scheme.

"If, after reading the Policy Document, FAQs and Application Guidance Notes, you think you may qualify for EMA, please complete the online EMA APPLICATION FORM"   


**Please note that in exceptional circumstances, where your supporting documentation is not available, it is important to submit the EMA application form WITHOUT supporting documents, and then e-mail the missing documentation as soon as possible to:  We are unable to pay EMA until all documentation is received, however, we may be able to backdate payments if the application form is received before the required deadline (please see FAQs for deadline dates). **


Who can apply for an EMA?

You can apply for an EMA if you turn 16 years of age by 28 February of that academic year. You must live in a household with annual income of £0 - £24,421 or £0 - £26,884. You must meet the residential requirements and you must attend school for 21 hours or more of programmed study each week. (Please download the EMA Policy Document for more detailed information regarding the eligibility criteria.

How often do I need to apply for an EMA?

You need to apply for an Education Maintenance Allowance award every year.

Only one application form should be submitted per student per academic year.  If you are contacted to provide further evidence in support of your application, please email these documents to:

Who do I contact if I haven’t received my EMA?

If you have received an email notification from the EMA Team to confirm you are eligible for EMA and you have handed your completed Learning Agreement to the school, you should check with the school to see that your attendance has been appropriately updated.  If your attendance has been updated, or you have not yet received your Award Notification email, please contact the EMA Team, Shared Services (tel: 0141 578 8947/ email: for further assistance. 

Does my performance at school affect my entitlement to my EMA?

Yes, payment of your EMA can be withheld, without warning, 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, with no warning. 

Does my EMA get paid if I am on holiday?

No, you will only be paid for weeks when you are at school.

Do I get my EMA if I am off sick?

If you have been awarded an EMA for the full school year, you are entitled to five days self – certification.  If you have been awarded an EMA award for half the school year, you are entitled to three days self- certificate (1 day or half day absence = 1 Self-Certificate).  Any other absences must be covered by a medical certificate or be authorised by the school.

Will I get my EMA if I move school during the school year?  

Yes. Your entitlement to an EMA will not be affected if the school is within the same Council area and provided that you fill out a new EMA learning agreement.

Can I receive my EMA while on work experience or study leave?

Yes. You will receive payments for the weeks you are on work experience, but only if this work experience is during term-time, as an agreed part of your course and is un-paid. You will be paid for study leave only if you attend for your exams.

Will you accept an EMA form after the start of the school session?

Yes. If you are eligible for a full year award and if we received your application before 30 September, payments will be backdated to the beginning of the school session in August. If you are eligible for a half-year award and we receive your application by 28 February, payments will be backdated to the beginning of the school session in January.  Otherwise, payments will be made from the week in which we receive your application. The cut-off date for processing applications is 31 March - no application will be accepted after this date.

What is an EMA Learning Agreement?

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.  Pupils are expected to adhere to this Learning Agreement, but if they don’t, EMA payments could be stopped.

Can Home Educated young people apply for EMA?

Yes. Home educated children can apply for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), and are subject to the same eligibility criteria as set out for school educated children. EMA is available to eligible young people who are undertaking full-time non-advanced level study by home education. The EMA programme is administered by the local authority in which the home education is based. Applications should be made using the EMA Application Form (when asked if you attend a secondary school you enter "NO" - this alerts the team that you are Home Educated). You will be asked to complete a learning agreement that provides evidence that the programme of study the criteria for EMA. Students applying for an EMA as a home educated student must have a history of home education prior to reaching their official school leaving date.