A total of 29,000 applications for the pound;30 per week education maintenance allowance have been approved this year, a leap of 3,380 students.
The EMA was introduced in Wales in 2004-5 to encourage more students from less well-off families to stay in full-time post-16 education. The weekly allowance, which is paid fortnightly, is withdrawn if students bunk off lessons or college courses.
FE colleges cater for more students from poorer backgrounds, according to the figures, with 13,980 of them applying for the maximum EMA grant, compared with 8,500 in secondary schools.
Bonuses of pound;100 are also paid in January and July to students making good academic progress.