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Home   Education and learning   Grants and allowances   Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

EMA is a weekly allowance of £30.

It provides financial assistance to help young people from low income households to:

  • stay on at school
  • continue their education

Can I get EMA?

EMAs are available to young people between 16 and 19 years of age.

They are assessed based on:

  • gross taxable household income
  • the number of dependent children living there
IncomeNo. of dependent children in householdAward
£0 - £24,421 1 £30
£0 – £26,884 2+ £30

'Dependent children' are young people:

  • up to the age of 16
  • between the ages of 16 and 25 and in further or higher education

EMA does not affect any other benefits.

Apply for EMA

You must make an new application for every academic year.

Apply for a 2019/20 EMA if you:

  • were born between 1 March 2000 and 29 February 2004
  • are resident in the UK and have been for the past 3 years (some exceptions may apply)
  • live in a household with annual gross taxable income as above

Apply for EMA

Learning agreement

Part of your application is a Learning Agreement (LA) that will be verified, as acceptable, by your school.

You must meet the conditions of your agreement to receive an EMA - for example:

  • attend school or college for a minimum of 21 guided learning hours per week
  • 100% attendance

Your payment can be withheld without warning if you:

  • are persistently late
  • don't follow your school's discipline policy
  • don't progress in your studies


Please note:

  • you can self certify for up to 5 days/10 half days sickness absence during an academic session
  • absences of 5 days, or more, must be covered by a doctor's medical certificate for your EMA payment to be made
  • if you're absent for a period of more than 3 weeks because of illness your allowance will be reviewed.

You will need

  • proof of your household income for the financial year 6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019
  • your full birth certificate
  • your and your parent/carer's contact details, including email address
  • your bank or building society account details for payment (please note that the account must be in the name of the young person applying for EMA unless the young person has additional support needs which make this impractical)
  • subject/course details for academic year 2019/20
Supporting documents

Scanned or digitally photographed supporting documents can be uploaded as a:

  • pdf
  • jpeg
  • png

Please use portrait format and make sure all the text can be clearly read. Documents of more than one page should be scanned as one file (for example, Tax Credit Award Notices).

If you can't upload your supporting documents, the originals must be be provided within 10 working days.

If providing documents in person, please take to one of the following:

  • Customer Service Centre, Bridgegate House, Irvine KA12 8BD
  • Town Hall, Countess Street, Saltcoats KA21 5HW
  • North Ayrshire Council, Lamlash, Isle of Arran KA27 8JY
  • Brooksby Medical Resource Centre, 31 Brisbane Road, Largs KA30 8LH

If posting documents, please: 

  • include a stamped self addressed envelope for returning your documents
  • write 'EMA APPLICATION' clearly on the front of the envelope
  • check and ensure you have paid sufficient postage.

If you need to provide us with further information after you have submitted your application, you can upload additional documents.


EMA payments

EMA payments will only be made once we have assessed your eligibility and your school has confirmed an acceptable Learning Agreement is in place.

Payments are made fortnightly, in arrears, directly into the applicant's (young person's) bank account. EMA is only paid in term time. EMA payment dates (PDF, 67kb).

College/university students

Contact your higher/further education institution for an application for financial assistance.

More information


Contact Education Maintenance Allowance



01294 324428 or 01294 324490


North Ayrshire Council, Customer & Digital Services, Business Support (EMA Section), Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE.