Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)

If you’re disabled and studying a higher education course, you can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra study-related costs.

You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You will not have to pay the DSAs back and they do not affect your other benefits.

What DSAs can pay for

You can get help paying for the disability-related costs of studying:

  • non-medical helpers, such as sign language interpreters or specialist mentors in some instances
  • specialist equipment, such as assistive software to enable you to access a computer
  • extra copies of materials or a small fridge to store medication
  • extra travel costs

You could get a new computer if you do not already have one or if your existing one does not meet your study needs. You’ll need to pay the first £200 towards the computer you need for study.

DSAs do not cover:

  • disability-related costs you’d have if you were not attending a course
  • costs that any student might have (such as books and food)

What DSAs can pay for (GOV.UK)

How DSAs are paid

Money is usually paid directly to the organisation providing the service or equipment.

How much you can get

How much you get depends on the course you’re studying and your needs, not your household income.

If you’re eligible, you can claim extra travel costs you have because of your condition or impairment. There is no maximum limit.

Find out how much you could get (GOV.UK)

In Wales, the amounts you can get could be different. Check with Student Finance Wales.

Eligibility

If your condition or impairment affects your ability to study (such as dyslexia, physical or mental health conditions), you can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

You must also:

  • be an undergraduate or postgraduate student
  • qualify for funding from Student Finance
  • be on a higher education course that lasts at least a year

If you’re eligible for NHS Disabled Students’ Allowances or are getting financial support from another funding source, like from your university or a social work bursary, you will not be able to claim DSAs.

Proving you’re eligible

You may need proof of your eligibility. You can use a photocopy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant.

You can also fill in the disability evidence form (PDF, 65KB). Keep a copy as you might need it for your needs assessment.

Eligible courses

You must be in the UK and studying one of the following:

  • first degree, for example BA, BSc or BEd
  • Foundation Degree
  • Certificate of Higher Education
  • Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
  • postgraduate course
  • Initial Teacher Training

Check with your university or college that your course is recognised.

How to apply

How you apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) depends on whether you’re studying full-time or part-time.

Warning Apply for DSAs as early as possible

In most cases, you do not need to have a place confirmed at university or college to apply.

If you’re a full-time student

If you’ve already applied for student finance, you can:

If you have not applied for student finance, you can:

You can apply online for DSAs when you make your student finance application or you can do it afterwards.

If you’re a part-time student

Apply using the DSAs paper application form. You cannot apply online. Contact Student Finance if you need help with your application.

Getting a needs assessment

Student Finance will ask you to arrange a needs assessment of what equipment and support you might need for your course. This is known as a study needs assessment.

You should only book a needs assessment if you’re eligible and Student Finance England tells you to.

Find your nearest DSAs assessment centre.

You’ll need to phone or email the assessment centre for an appointment. If you do not have a needs assessment, Student Finance will not be able to process your DSA application.

You go through the assessment for DSA once. You do not need to reapply every year unless your condition has changed.

The DSA needs assessor will chat with you about how to get the best out of your course. They will identify areas where you might benefit from support, for example, using computer technology.

After your assessment, you’ll receive a report listing equipment and other support you can get for your course.

Getting DSAs advice

Ask to speak to the disability advisor at your college or university before you apply for student funding.

An advisor can give you information on:

  • how to apply for DSAs
  • what you can use DSAs for
  • how to get extra funding if your DSAs do not cover all your support needs

You can contact the Disabled Students Helpline at Disability Rights UK for advice too. They also have a detailed section on applying for DSAs in their Into Higher Education 2019 guide (Disability Rights UK).

Last reviewed by Scope on: 30/05/2019

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