Education Maintenance Allowance explained
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a means-tested allowance of £30 a week which is paid fortnightly into your bank account. The information on this page refers to applications for EMA for academic year 2023 to 2024.
Education Maintenance Allowance
If you decide to stay on at school or go to a further education college in Northern Ireland, you may be able to get the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). It is available for both academic and vocational courses.
EMA is a weekly award of £30 which is paid fortnightly to students who meet the eligibility criteria below.
It is intended to help cover the day-to-day costs that you have to meet when you stay on at school or college like travel costs, books and equipment for your course.
As well as the EMA payments, two bonus payments of £100 may be paid to you if you achieve the goals and objectives that are set down for you by your school/college as part of the Learning Agreement Part 2. The first bonus payment is made to students in January and the second bonus payment is made in June.
Courses eligible for EMA
You have to be enrolled on courses of further education up to and including Level 3, but not including higher education.
The main types are:
- A levels
- NVQ/SVQ level 1, 2 or 3
- Pre U
- BTEC National Diploma, National Certificate and First Diploma
- SCE higher grade or similar
Any course that attracts a training allowance will not be covered by the Money to Learn EMA. This includes Further Education (FE) Awards or DAERA Bursaries.
Who is entitled to EMA
You can get an EMA if you're aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 years on or between 2 July 2022 and 1 July 2023 and all of the following statements apply to you:
- your household income is £20,500 or less for households with one dependent child
- your household income is £22,500 or less for households with more than one dependent child
- you are full time at school or doing a minimum of 15 guided hours per week at college
- you are studying an eligible course and attending all classes
- you meet the nationality and residency rules set out in the EMA scheme
- you have not already received the maximum allowance for EMA which is 117 positive or negative weekly attendance confirmations over the total length of your course
You may be entitled to receive EMA for a maximum of three years, as long as the household income does not rise above the income threshold which applies to your household.
Receipt of EMA will not affect any other benefits being received in the household.
Downloadable EMA Application Forms and Notes for the academic year 2023 to 2024 can be accessed within the Education Maintenance Allowance application forms and guidance notes page.
Also, general guidance information on the EMA Scheme for the academic year 2023 to 2024 can be accessed within the Education Maintenance Allowance general guidance information page
If you have any queries about your EMA application, contact the Education Maintenance Allowance helpline.
Qualifying for EMA
If you want to appeal a decision about your eligibility for the EMA Scheme, you should contact the EMA Customer Services Team in the first instance.
Further appeals should be sent in writing, with all supporting evidence, to the Department for the Economy’s Head of Student Support.
Attendance and Bonus Payments
If your school/college has decided that you’re not entitled to receive a weekly or bonus payment, you should appeal directly to the school or college in the first instance. Further appeals should be directed to the EMA Customer Services Team.