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Education Maintenance Allowance helping low income students excel.
More than 32,000 young people from low income families continued their college or school studies last year thanks to more than £25 million of support through the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) last year.
In total, 31 per cent of all school pupils aged between 16 and 19 years old and 20 per cent of full-time college students in the same age bracket received a payment in the 2014-15 academic year.
The awards are non-repayable and available to young people from families on a low income. In 2014-15, 35 per cent of those receiving EMA funding came from the 20 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland.
Changes to increase the numbers of young people eligible for EMA support were announced by the First Minister and came in to effect in January. These increased the eligible income thresholds and, for the first time, made support available to part-time college students.
Minister for Youth and Women's Employment Annabelle Ewing said:
"The Education Maintenance Allowance is a lifeline for tens of thousands of young people and their families to make it easier for them to take the decision to stay in school or further education and in doing so increase their chances of leaving school with qualifications that will help them into sustainable employment or pursue further learning or training.
"If we are going to make our society fairer, our education system has to be our priority. We don't want our young people to feel disadvantaged if they stay in school or continue to college. We want to support young people in low income families, which is why we increased the income threshold and opened up EMAs up to even more young people. This is in direct contrast to the UK Government which has scrapped the programme in its entirety in England.
"We're working to close the educational attainment gap in many ways. The £180 million Attainment Fund, our £500 million funding for early learning and childcare, increased targets for Modern Apprentice opportunities and enlisting experts to widen access and develop the young workforce are all helping us support families, open up education and give young people hope for their future, regardless of their background."
The EMA programme 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. The funding meant that 32,395 young people received an EMA payment last year.
EMA is an entitlement and demand led programme which 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.