What is an education maintenance allowance?
Education maintenance allowance (EMA) is designed to encourage you to further your education after compulsory school, and improve your employment prospects.
We manage the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government which has ultimate responsibility for policy and guidelines. You can find out more about EMA on the Scottish Government website.
You must complete a new application every academic year. You can find out more about how we monitor your entitlement on our FAQ's.
Please note we will only deal with queries and applications for pupils residing in the Scottish Borders. For all other residents in Scotland, contact your own local authority.
When to apply
Applications for academic year 2023/24 will be available online from June 2023.
Am I eligible for EMA?
You can apply for an EMA if you:
- live in Scotland at the start of your course
- have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years immediately before you started your course
You must also either have:
- settled immigration status in the UK, including British citizens
- lived in the UK for seven years if you're under 18
- other residency rules also apply
- if you live in Scottish Borders and travel daily to England to attend school or college and meet the eligibility criteria you can apply to us for an EMA. You won't be eligible for EMA if you receive another type of education funding for example college bursary.
You can apply for EMA when you are between 16 and 19 years old.
- if your 16 birthday falls between 1 March and 30 September, you'll be eligible to apply from the autumn intake in August
if your 16 birthday falls between 1 October and the last day in February you'll be eligible to apply from the winter intake in January.
Your household income
Your household income for the tax year ending 5 April 2023 must be less than:
- £24,421 for one child in education
- £26,884 for two or more children in education
Income considered as part of household income includes:
- earned income
- self-employed income
- Tax Credits
- Universal Credit
- DWP benefits
Your course and where you study
To apply with us you should meet one of the following criteria:
- be enrolled at school in the Borders and be following a recognised course of at least 21 hours per week
- have an Stage 1 No One Left Behind programme for more than nine hours per week, and fully participate in those activities every week
- be home educated studying a non-advanced course at home that we have approved
- be on a non-advanced course at school or college in England but reside in Scotland
You will also need a learning agreement, signed by you, your parents or carers, and by the school or college you attend. The agreement should detail your timetabled hours and study periods.
If you are on a non-advanced course at Borders College, you can find information about how to apply on their website.
Please note: EMA is not available to anyone who resides in England.