EMA Replacement Announced

29 March 2011, 06:00

The Educational Maintenance Allowance, which was scrapped last year, has been replaced by a new funding system for 16 to 19-year-olds.

The Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), a £10-30 weekly funding scheme for 16 to 19-year-olds in college, was scrapped by the Government last year.

Campaigners warned that scrapping the grant would affect thousands of young people who rely on the money to help fund their studies.

Georgina Knight, a college student from Wymondham in Norfolk, told Heart about how the weekly support she receives helps her:

"For attending college, when you get marked into the register, that goes through to the EMA office, and if you attend all that on time, you get EMA each week.  People not having a job, they rely on that money to get to college.  Depending on your family's income it ranges from £10 to £30 a week; if your parents earn under £30,000 a year you get the main highest [payment] which is £30."

"Some people on my course live quite far out compared to where I do, and they haven't got the money to come in or to get petrol to come in.  If you haven't got the money to do that, then you can't really help it because there's no other way of getting in really."

"It basically helps me out a lot with college stuff, transport; I drive, so I use it on petrol to get to college, and also if I need to buy food at college or equipment like books or pens.  It makes a lot of difference, especially if you don't have a job."

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has now revealed plans for the new support scheme for college students.

A £180-million bursary scheme will now be used to help the poorest teenagers to replace the EMA.

The initiative is only worth around a third of the EMA, which had annual funding of 560-million.

Education Secretary Michael Gove says vulnerable 16-to-19-year olds will get a guaranteed payment of 12-hundred pounds a year to stay in education.

There'll also be a "discretionary fund" to benefit other students. 

Schools and colleges will be told that they can distribute the rest of the money to any student they feel faces "genuine financial barriers'' to staying.

On announcing it he said "We want to make sure that those who need help to persue learning have that help, which is why this money will be in the hands of principles, more flexible, and it can be targetted pricisely on the need for food, for transport and equipment."

Hear More From Georgina On How She Uses EMA