Costs of learning: student funding guide 2019 to 2020

Funding guide for learners and students including those going to college or university.

Staying on at school or attending college (16-19 year olds)

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

If you want to stay on at school after your school leaving date (there are two school leaving dates in a year - your earliest leaving date depends on when you turn 16) you may be eligible for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). EMAs provide financial support for 16 to 19 year olds from low income families who attend school on a full time basis, or undertake a full-time or part-time non-advanced course at college. EMA is also payable to eligible young people who have a Learning Agreement or Action Plan supported by their Local Authority. In order to qualify for an EMA you must meet the criteria in place, which includes household income (see below), age, residency status and the course you are studying must be applicable. If you are enrolled in school, the programme is managed by your Local Education Authority. If you are enrolled in college, the programme is managed by your FE college.

EMA is payable during term time for school and college students, and up to 52 weeks per year for Local Authority Learning Agreements. It is paid directly into the young person's bank account and can only be paid for full weeks within term time and only where 100% of agreed weekly attendance has been achieved. Colleges and local authorities have discretion to offer flexibility around attendance. A young person can receive either an EMA or a maintenance bursary but not both. However if you receive a maintenance bursary or EMA you may still be entitled to other forms of bursary support, for example a travel bursary.

To be eligible for an EMA you must also have a current signed Learning Agreement which should be completed for each academic year. This agreement sets out an agreed programme of learning between the applicant and the school or college for the coming year and you must adhere to the conditions of that Learning Agreement. The local authority may discontinue the EMA payments where the information supplied by the institution states that you have failed to comply with your Learning Agreement. For more information and to receive an application form you should contact your school, college or local authority. Further details can be found on our website:

The following table shows the household income thresholds for EMA.

Income threshold Weekly payment
Zero to £24,421 (for applicants from households with one child in full-time education) £30
Zero to £26,884 (for applicants from households with more than one child in full-time education) £30

You can get more information on EMAs from your school, college or local authority

Full-time students

If you are a full-time student you will generally not have to pay fees as long as you meet certain conditions.

You may also be eligible for:

  • help with living costs (for you and your dependants);
  • help with travel, books and equipment;
  • help towards childcare; and

extra help (from discretionary funds).



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