What Is the Education Maintenance Allowance?

The Education Maintenance Allowance is a program that helps to pay for the education of low-income students ages 16 to 19 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The program was established across the United Kingdom in 2004 to encourage children from low-income families to continue their education after the age of 16. Australia has a similar program.

Under the Education Maintenance Allowance program, students ages 16 to 19 receive between £10 and £30 per week as of 2014. The money is intended for spending on books and transportation to school, but there is no enforcement of this, and students are free to spend the money as they choose. Students must attend approved classes to receive the payments.

The United Kingdom stopped offering the Education Maintenance Allowance in England in 2001 because of budget cuts. England instead switched to a bursary system in which similar payments are made directly to the students' schools rather than to the students themselves.

A similar Education Maintenance Allowance program in Australia provides $100 to $300 to low-income families with school-age children at any level to assist in paying for books, uniforms and excursions; however, the program is scheduled to be shut down at the end of 2014.