MORE than 30,000 teenagers in Yorkshire have applied for the new weekly maintenance grant.
The grant was introduced this year to encourage youngsters to take further education.
Sixteen-year-olds who live in a household with an annual income of £30,000 a year or less, are entitled to the Education Maintenance Allowance if they decide to take A-levels or National Vocational Qualifications.
This equates to £10, £20 or £30 per week, paid directly into their bank accounts.
Bonuses of up to £500 over a two-year period are also available to those who show good progress and commitment to learning.
The allowance forms part of the Government's wider drive towards encouraging half of all 18 to 30-year-olds into higher education by 2010.
But the move has been criticised by Chris Woodhead, the former Chief Inspector of Schools. He said it would do little to provide the country with the practical tradespeople it needs.
But Ivan Lewis, Minister for Skills and Vocational Education, said: "The allowance is about providing opportunities and increasing participation in further education.
"We are extremely pleased that thousands of students have signed up for the scheme.
"Many would not have had the means to continue with their studying after their GCSEs," added Mr Lewis.
"But we are not just giving money away without expecting anything in return.
"Students will only qualify for their weekly payment if they turn up to all their lessons and hand in their coursework on time," he said.
The EMA is intended to help cover day-to-day costs that students have to meet, such as travel expenses, books and equipment for their courses.