Education Funding

16-19 years old and in School or Further Education (FE) College

Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

If you are staying on at school after your school leaving date – the earliest date you can leave school – then you may be entitled to claim an Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

To be eligible you must be between the ages of 16 and 19, ordinarily resident in Scotland, have a household income below a certain level and be in school full-time or in a non-advanced college course.

You can find out more about the EMA and how to apply here:

Other funding

If you have a disability which significantly affects your ability to perform tasks required in caring for yourself or that affects your mobility then from age 16 you may be eligible to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Should you be awarded this then this payment is not calculated as income and will not affect anything else you may be entitled to. See our guide here:

PIP Info guide

Help or reasonable adjustments

It may be that you need a bit of extra help or equipment to support you in your education due to your disability or impairment. Should this be the case you would discuss it with your school or college and they would be responsible for the costs of any of this support.

A good source of information on getting the support you (or if you are a parent – your child) need at school can be found here:






Further Education (FE) Colleges

The previous section deals with funding for 16-19 year olds in both school and in an FE College. But there is another source of funding which can be used by adults in FE and that is Individual Training Accounts. 

Individual Training Accounts

Individual Training Accounts offer up to £200 towards a single course in any given year. To qualify you must be 16 years old or older, unemployed and looking for work, in a low income household and resident in Scotland. Only certain subjects of study may be eligible. You can find out more here:

Individual Training Accounts (ITAs)

Help or Reasonable Adjustments

As mentioned in the previous section, if you need assistance in your education due to barriers caused by your impairment or disability then the college is responsible for making reasonable adjustments and are responsible for those costs for those students not entitled to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). It should be borne in mind though, that the term ‘reasonable’ here means balancing your needs with the resources of the college. 

Higher Education (HE)

Funding University Fees

Students ordinarily resident in Scotland on an undergraduate degree course of study are funded by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). You should have been resident for three years prior to the start of your course. This funding covers the fees for an undergraduate degree, an HNC/HND. You can find all the eligibility details for SAAS funding here:

If you do not fulfil the residency criteria for SAAS funding but have been resident in the UK then do check the other UK funding bodies. 

Student Finance England

Student Finance Northern Ireland

Student Finance Wales

Living expenses

UK students on recognised courses can apply for loans to help with living expense while studying. Scottish students would apply through SAAS. The Student Loans Company pays the loan but you can check the progress you application in your SAAS account. 

You can find some information on it here on the UK Government website:


Most full-time students are not eligible for means tested benefits  but there are some exceptions. You can find some information on it here:

Part-time students may have some benefit entitlement and you can learn about that here:

Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA)

Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) deserves a section on its own since some students in Further Education and some in Higher Education can apply for it. 

Disabled Student's Allowance and Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments

The term ‘reasonable adjustments’ comes from The Equality Act (2010). What it means for disabled students is that educational institutions should assess any barriers to their education arising out of their disability and make reasonable adjustments to help ensure they are not disadvantaged in comparison to non-disabled peers. What is ‘reasonable’ is determined by a number of factors including for example, the resources of the institution and also the assessment criteria and specific course requirements. Adjustments may range from small tweaks to organisation of teaching and learning, to equipment or even structural adaptations to buildings such as fitting ramps. 

Costs of adjustments may be met by the institution for students who are not eligible for Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) or by DSA for students who are eligible.

Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA)

DSA is paid to cover the costs of some of the recommendations which may be made as reasonable adjustments. This could include equipment or specialist tutors or mentors. The process for claiming DSA varies a little depending on who your funding body is but your college or university will usually be able to give you the information you need. 

You can find out more about who is eligible for DSA here:

The recommendations for reasonable adjustments will be made by a qualified needs assessor in your university or in an assessment centre. Your assessor writes a needs assessment report which will be sent with your application for DSA to your funding body who use it to decide what to award you.

If you want to understand a bit more about applying for Disabled Students Allowance and what the Needs Assessment process is like then go to these sections in the Disabled Students in Further and Higher Education Guide:


The DSA Needs Assessment

The DSA Award

What if the funding body rejects some or all of the recommendations?

Information last updated on 19 February 2021. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.

If you would like this information guide in another version then please contact us and we will post or email you a copy.

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