More than three-quarters of post-16 students applying for weekly grants to support their studies come from families earning pound;19,630 a year or less.
Education maintenance allowances, worth up to pound;30 a week, were introduced in Wales in 2004-5 with the aim of encouraging more students from low-income families to stay in full-time education post-16.
The first provisional statistics on the scheme, published this week, show 76 per cent of the 14,070 EMA applicants approved up to the end of last month received the maximum pound;30 because of their families' low income.
The weekly allowance is linked to satisfactory attendance, and is paid fortnightly. Children of families earning up to pound;24,030 receive pound;20 a week, and pound;10 if household income is less than pound;30,001.
The figures also confirm that further education colleges are catering for more young people from poorer backgrounds than schools. Around 80 per cent of successful applications from FE students were for the maximum pound;30 a week EMA, compared to just over 70 per cent of school sixth-formers.
Both in schools and colleges, young women accounted for a higher proportion of approved applications than males (53 per cent).
Female students also got more retention-bonus payments of pound;100, payable in January and July, to students who have stuck to attendance and attainment objectives set out in learning agreements worked out with their school or college.
Those who returned for a second year of study this month would have been eligible for another pound;100 bonus.