Stage 1: Before you apply
Education Maintenance Allowance, funding for Further Education


Before making your application, there are some things you should check to make sure you’ll be able to get EMA.


You must be between 16 and 18 years old on 31 August 2024.

Nationality and residency

You can apply if all of the following apply:

  • you're a UK national, Irish Citizen or have settled status
  • you’ll be living in Wales on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • you’ve been living in the UK and Islands for 3 years before starting your course

If these do not apply to you, you may still be eligible to apply for EMA if you’re living in Wales. Check our Nationality and Residency guide for more information.


Although you don't have to study in Wales to get EMA, you must be studying at a school or college involved in the EMA scheme.

Your course should be an academic or vocational course, up to and including Level 3. Examples of such courses are:

  • GCSEs
  • AS-Levels or A-Levels
  • Basic skills courses
  • Independent Living Skills courses or, if studying in England, Preparation for Adulthood

Your school or college can tell you if the course you want to do is eligible.

You will not be eligible for EMA if you’re receiving an allowance or similar, or being paid for a publicly funded work-based learning programme (such as an apprenticeship) in the UK.

If studying at school

Your course must be full-time.

If studying at college

  • You must be studying a minimum of 12 guided hours per week; and
  • Your course must last at least 10 weeks.

Household income

Your household income must be below a certain level for you to get EMA. There are two different levels depending on your family circumstances:

  • Household income must be £20,817 or less if you’re the only young person in the household.
  • Household income must be £23,077 or less if there is more than one young person in the household (this includes you).

Our FE calculator (opens in a new tab) can help you work out whether you might be able to get EMA based on your household income.

More detailed information about household income, including what to do if you’re a care leaver, can be found in the household income section.