Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) from August 2023

What is EMA?

EMA is a weekly allowance payable fortnightly during term time to all eligible young people aged over the statutory school leaving age who meet the criteria. The young person must be willing to adhere to an approved Learning Agreement at school.

The scheme will pay a maintenance allowance of £30 per week (dependant on individual circumstances) provided that the conditions of a learning agreement between the young person and the school are met.

How does EMA work?

  • EMA is paid direct to young people into their own bank account.
  • The EMA is a weekly allowance and is only paid for full weeks within term time up to a maximum of 42 weeks in any one academic year. It can only be paid where the conditions of the learning agreement are met.
  • EMA payments are not made during short term-time holidays which include the October week, Christmas and Spring break.
  • The school will monitor each individual pupil’s Learning Agreement and advise the Council if the terms of the agreement are not met.
  • If a pupil goes on holiday during term time, they will not receive EMA whilst on holiday.
  • A pupil must have a current signed Learning Agreement with their school and keep to the conditions of that Learning Agreement.
  • If you have followed the conditions of the EMA award prior to study leave starting you will be considered for payment during the SQA exam period.  At the end of the SQA exam timetable S6 pupils will no longer be entitled to any payment.

What is a Learning Agreement?

  • A Learning Agreement is an agreement between a pupil and their school that sets out the learning that will need to take place and the pupil’s responsibilities. It also sets out what is expected in terms of attendance, conduct and progress to receive EMA.
  • To be eligible for an EMA a pupil must sign a Learning Agreement -within 4 weeks of their application being approved - which must also be signed by the parent and by the school they are attending. A new Learning Agreement is completed for each academic year.
  • EMA may be stopped by the school if a pupil does not comply with the conditions of the Learning Agreement.

Household Income Thresholds for 2023/2024

EMA awards are based on the total taxable household income. For example:



Less than £24,421 (for families with a single child in full-time education)

£30 per week

Less than £26,884 (for families with more than one child in full-time education)

£30 per week

Evidence of Household Income Required

The evidence of income will vary depending on the circumstances of parents. Details of the acceptable evidence is shown on the application form. If after reading this you require further information, please call 01475 712850 – option 2.

How EMA can be Used

EMA is designed to support young people to stay on at school once they have reached the age to leave compulsory education. The payment is intended to help meet the costs of study and to encourage the student to continue with their education.

Effects on Other Benefits

EMA is currently paid over and above Child Benefit and other benefits.

Method of Payment

Payment is made directly into the young person’s bank account. The account must be capable of receiving BACS payments. If advice is needed on setting up a bank account, the young person should contact the bank they wish to join for further information.


You can apply online using the link under the Related Links section on this page.

If you decide to return a paper form including important documents such as birth certificates and/or passports by post, we recommend that you use Royal Mail recorded delivery to allow you to trace the package and ensure the safety of your documents.  Original documentation will also be returned to you by recorded delivery.  Inverclyde Council cannot accept responsibility for lost or undelivered items of mail.

The table below shows the Scottish Government set deadline dates for submission and when payment can be expected (assuming the young person meets the qualifying criteria).

Date of birth between

1 March 2004 - 30 September 2007

1 October 2007 - 29 February 2008

Eligible from

August 2023

January 2024

Submission deadlines

30 September 2023

28 February 2024

If submission date is missed

Payment is made from date of submission only

Final Submission date for applications

31 Mar 2024. Applications received after this date will not be considered

Submission date for supporting evidence

If we request further information from you to assess the application, this must be submitted with two weeks from the date of request

Failure to supply documents within this timescale may result in Education services being unable to consider backdated awards

Late Applications

Students are eligible to apply for an EMA within the academic year however, the cut off dates for Education Services to process application forms will be 31 March 2024. No applications will be processed after 31 March 2024 for the current academic year. Students whose application forms have been received after this date will not receive payments for school session 2023/2024.

Changing schools during the year

This will not affect your entitlement to an EMA, provided you renew your EMA Learning Agreement with your new school.

PLEASE NOTE: A fresh EMA application must be made each academic year, including all original documentation needed to complete the assessment.

Application forms should be completed online using the link on the related links section of this page.

If you are unable to access the application online, or require support to make the application, please contact us, for further assistance on 01475 712850 - option 2.

Telephone service is available during the following hours:
Monday 8.45 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Tuesday  8.45 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Wednesday 8.45 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Thursday 8.45 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Friday 8.45 a.m. to 3.45 p.m.

To send an email, please use the link on the right-hand side of this webpage.

We can produce information on request in large print, Braille, tape and on disk. It is also available in other languages. If you need information in any of these formats, please contact us on 01475 717171.