If your condition or impairment affects your ability to study (such as dyslexia, physical or mental health conditions), you can apply for DSA.
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 financial support from the NHS, you will need to apply to NHS Student Bursaries for your DSA. You cannot get DSA if you are getting similar support from another funder, like from your university or a social work bursary.
Proving you’re eligible
You will need to submit medical evidence to prove your eligibility, such as:
a diagnostic assessment for a specific learning difficulty
a photocopy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant explaining how your condition affects you
an Education, Health and Care Plan
Keep a copy as you might need it for your needs assessment.
You can apply for DSA if you attend a publicly funded full-time or part-time higher education course in the UK. This includes a:
first degree, for example BA, BSc or BEd
Certificate of Higher Education
Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
Higher National Certificate (HNC)
Higher National Diploma (HND)
Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
postgraduate course, such as research and taught Masters, doctorates, postgraduate diplomas and certificates
How to apply
How you apply for DSA depends on whether you’re studying full-time or part-time.
Warning Apply for DSA 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’re a full-time student and applying for other student finance, you can apply for DSA at the same time from your online account.
You can also apply for DSA online even after you’ve completed your main student finance application.
If you’re only applying for DSA and no other student finance, you will need to fill in the DSA paper application form.
If you’re a part-time student
Apply using the DSA paper application form. You cannot apply online. Contact Student Finance if you need help with your application.
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 can choose between a remote or face-to-face assessment. If you choose to have your assessment remotely, you can ask for adjustments to make it accessible for you. For example, using video chat software that works with your assistive technology or having a British Sign Language interpreter.
You should only book a needs assessment when Student Finance England tells you to.
If you do not have a needs assessment, Student Finance will not be able to process your DSA application.
You will not have to reapply for DSA each year if you:
are continuing the same course
have taken out a maintenance loan or tuition fee loan
and received DSA the previous year
The assessor will speak 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, the assessor will send a report to Student Finance and a copy to you if requested. On receiving the report, Student Finance will:
confirm your entitlement
tell you how to order any approved equipment
send you a report listing equipment and other support you can get for your course
Before applying for DSA, it can be helpful to speak to the disability adviser at your college or university. An adviser can give you information on:
how to apply for DSA
what you can use DSA for
how to get extra funding if your DSA does not cover all your support needs