EMA, Bursaries and Financial Support

Education Maintenance Allowance

EMA logo

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is part of the Scottish Government's agenda of encouraging access to, and participation in, further education by young people from low-income families. 

EMA provides financial support for 16 - 19 year olds who are:
  • staying on at school;
  • staying on in home education;
  • attending college on a part time basis (for full time Further Education students, please see the Bursary Information section);
  • following an Activity Agreement programme.

Apply for EMA

EMA Applications for 2023/24 are now closed.  Applications for the new school year will open in June 2024.

Download Terms & Conditions

Eligibility and FAQs

The household income of the young person will determine their eligibility for an EMA.



You may be eligible for an EMA if:
Date of Birth between
Application Date
EMA Payable from
1st March 2005 - 30th September 2008
Apply on or before 30th Setepmber 2024 August 2024
Apply after 30th September 2024 Payments will start the week we receive your application
1st October 2008 and 28th February 2009

Apply on or before 28th February 2025

January 2025
Apply after 28th February 2025 Payments will start the week we receive your application
If you fall into one of the above categories and one of the categories below, you will be eligible for a weekly allowance of £30 (not paid during holiday periods):
No. of Children in Family
Household Income (taxable income 2023/24)
£0 - £26,884
£0 - £24,421
If you are living in a foster home, in the care of the local authority, a care leaver or an independent student there is no assessment of household income required.
Please see the Bursaries Information section to apply for an EMA  if you are studying a full-time course at Shetland UHI.
Activity Agreements
You should apply for your EMA as soon as you start your Activity Agreement. Payments will be backdated to the first date of engagement (within the current financial year).

Supporting Documents

You should include the following documents with your application:

  • Pupil's Birth Certificate or Passport.
  • Household Income for 2024/25 - this can be your Tax Credit Award Notice 2024/25 or Annual Review for the year ended 05/04/2024.  If you do not have a Tax Credit Award Notice or Annual Review you should submit your P60 or Tax Return for Self-employment.
  • Proof of Single Person Household (if applicable) - this can be your Council Tax Notice for 2024/25 which shows a 25% single person reduction, or your Tax Credit Award Notice or Universal Credit Statement.
Please note if you do not have a bank account in your own name, you will need to open one when you apply for your EMA.  EMA payments can only be paid into accounts in the name of the EMA applicant and not into the bank account of a parent/carer.
Photocopies/scanned copies are acceptable.  However, Children’s Services reserve the right to see the original document on request.
If you are unable to upload your supporting documents at the time of making your application, please email copies to childrensservices-finance@shetland.gov.uk.  

Learning Agreement

If your application is successful, you will be emailed an award letter with your full award details along with a link to complete a Learning Agreement (LA).  This is an agreement between the student and the learning centre which sets out the targets for academic year.  Failure to comply with the terms of the learning agreement may result in non-payment of EMA.
Learning Agreements must be signed by the student, their parent/carer and the learning centre.
No Payments will be made until you have returned your completed, signed Learning Agreement. Please note Learning Agreements should be returned within three weeks of the date of the Award Letter
The final submission dates for Learning Agreements are:
  • 30th November 2024 - for those eligible from August 2024
  • 21st March 2025 - for those eligible form January 2025

It is your responsibility to ensure you have a valid Learning Agreement in place.

Payment of your EMA

Payments are made fortnightly in arrears directly into the young person’s bank account depending on attendance and compliance with the requirements of their learning agreement.
EMA will be paid during term time only.  No payments will be made for school holiday weeks.
Please note there may be occasions where payment is delayed due to public or bank holidays.
EMA Payment Schedule - Term 1 - 2023/24
Weeks Ending Payment Date












October Holidays - No Payment.


Payments can be withheld without warning if your attendance falls below 100%, unless your absences have been covered by a medical certificate or approved by your learning centre.
A maximum of 5 days self-certified absences will be accepted in any one term. Self-certified absences would require a note from your parent/guardian.
Lateness can also affect payments.


The award will be for one academic year only.  A new application must be submitted each year.

EMA and your benefits

An EMA is paid in addition to other support and benefits provided by the Government.  This will not affect any other benefits you or your family receive.

It will not affect any money you earn from a part-time job either.

Change in Circumstances

If your circumstances change for any reason, you must contact us.  
If there has been a significant change in your household financial circumstances from one year to the next, please provide us with confirmation of income for the previous year and as much information as possible regarding the current circumstances to enable us to assess a projected income for the current year.  It may be possible for us to award a provisional EMA payment with regular income assessments during the year.