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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 00:51 GMT
Students sign up for weekly grant
students working in college
Students get bonuses for sticking to learning contracts
More than a quarter of a million teenagers in England received education grants worth up to 30 a week this autumn, the government has said.

Education maintenance allowances, for 16 and 17-year-olds with family incomes below 30,000, began in September.

In January, the scheme is being extended to students on short courses, so more are being encouraged to apply.

Ministers say the EMA payments, available across the UK, are improving the relatively poor staying-on rate.

'Get in touch'

Depending on their family circumstances, students get 10, 20 or 30 a week paid directly into their bank accounts - provided they turn up for lessons regularly.

EMAs: KEY FEATURES
Eligible if born between 1 September 1987 and 31 August 1988, studying at least 12 hours a week
Means-tested weekly payments of 10, 20 or 30
Must sign a contract on attendance, coursework and progress
Commitment bonuses of 100 (up to 500 in total over two years)
Available for academic and vocational courses, including GCSE retakes
Can do paid work - means test is on parents' income (max. 30k)
Other household benefits not affected
People on vocational courses as well as those studying A-levels or Highers at school or college are eligible.

There was something of a shaky start, with many of the estimated 350,000 eligible for the money in England filling in their application forms incorrectly, officials said.

The Minister for Skills and Vocational Education, Ivan Lewis, said: "With so many students now benefiting from their regular EMA payments and choosing to stay on in education we are reducing this country's post-16 drop-out rate.

"I urge all young people who may feel tempted to drop out into low-paid work to get in touch with their local college and inquire about available courses.

"If they attend and make progress they will not only receive EMA but gain valuable qualifications to boost their career prospects and earnings."

Last year almost 83,000 16-year-olds dropped out of education or training after GCSEs, according to the Department for Education and Skills.

An evaluation of EMA pilot schemes by the Centre for Research into Social Policy and the Institute for Fiscal Studies found they significantly improved students' motivation, attendance and attainment.

The Conservatives say they would review the scheme's efficiency, and that they wanted to be sure it was helping the right students studying the right subjects.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The scheme is being extended in January




SEE ALSO:
Form errors delay student grants
22 Sep 04 |  Education
'Earn-to-learn' scheme pays off
17 Mar 04 |  Education
Pupils keen to be paid for learning
02 Jun 00 |  Education
Q&A: Payment for study
19 Apr 04 |  Education


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