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Education Maintenance Allowances 2020-21 In Scotland

3rd August 2022

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) provides financial support for young people aged 16 to 19 years from low-income households to overcome financial barriers to participate in school or college courses, or in an Activity Agreement. It is also available to those who are home-educated.

The programme aims to increase participation and retention in post-compulsory education.

The EMA is an entitlement and demand led programme that aims to provide support for young people aged 16 to 19 from low income families to overcome financial barriers to stay on in post-16 education; either in school or on a college course, or to take up an Activity Agreement.

The programme is administered by local authorities and colleges on behalf of Scottish Ministers. A weekly payment of £30 is made to a young person and is subject to attendance and agreement of a learning plan.

Additional information can be found at This release is accompanied by online tables that cover more detailed analysis.

Total spend
The total spend on EMA in 2020-21 was £22.1 million. Of this, £16.8 million was spent on school recipients (76% of total payments), £4.6 million on college payments (21%) and £0.6 million on activity agreements (3%).

Average payment per person, by gender
The average payment per EMA recipient was £882 in 2020-21.

Amongst EMA recipients, school students received on average £933 over the academic year, college students £763 and activity agreements £667. The main difference is due to the number of weeks in which each type is eligible to receive the benefit over the year.

On average, female recipients receive £891, slightly more than male recipients (£872).

Average payment per person, by deprivation
Students from the most deprived areas are more likely to receive EMA: 9,525 recipients from Quintile 1 (the most deprived) versus 1,930 recipients from Quintile 5 (the least deprived).

Read the full report at