Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Thursday, 29 December 2005

Stay-on cash for 380,000 students

The payments are between 10 and 30 weekly

Some 380,000 students have received maintenance payments to help them stay on at college in England since the start of the autumn term.

Students who continue training or education above the age of 16 and live in households with an annual income below £30,000 are eligible for support.

The Learning and Skills Council is urging more young people to apply for the Education Maintenance Allowance.

Payments under the scheme range between £10 and £30 per week.

Children's Minister Maria Eagle said she was pleased so many had benefited.

We would also like to remind parents that EMA doesn't affect any other family benefits
Trevor Fellowes
Learning and Skills Council

She added: "I am particularly pleased they are attaining qualifications and developing skills that will help them to succeed in life."

Ms Eagle urged all young people who felt tempted to drop out of education and into low-paid work to get in touch with their college to see what help is available under the EMA scheme.

"It's a great way to boost their career prospects and earnings potential in the long term," she added.

Trevor Fellowes, director of learner support at the council which operates the scheme, said he expected the numbers to increase throughout 2006. He also urged all youngsters to see if they are eligible for the payments.


He added: "We would also like to remind parents that EMA doesn't affect any other family benefits and young people can still work part-time and receive cash while they learn."

The maintenance allowance is available at colleges, schools and sixth form centres to study vocational or academic courses or for GCSE retakes.

People born between 1 September 1987 and 31 August 1989 and doing at least 12 hours a week guided learning are eligible for the support from September 2005 and can apply at any time during their course.

And students can obtain a bonus payment in their subsequent years if they meet certain criteria.

The payment scheme was first introduced in June, with students invited to make applications for the September term.

The government hopes it will boost the number of students from poor backgrounds staying on after compulsory education ends at the age of 16.

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