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Disabled Students' Allowance

If you’re disabled and studying a higher education course, you can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to cover some of the extra study-related costs or expenses that you incur.

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

University funding for disabled students

What DSA can pay for

DSA is available to pay towards the extra disability-related costs of studying. It can be used to pay for:

  • non-medical helpers, such as sign language interpreters or specialist mentors
  • specialist equipment or assistive technology to enable you to access a computer
  • other disability-related costs of studying, like extra copies of materials or a small fridge to store medication
  • extra disability-related costs travelling to and from university

In England, you have to pay the first £200 towards the cost of a new computer if you need it to run recommended assistive software.

DSA does not cover:

  • disability-related costs that you would have whether you were a student or not, such as personal care support
  • costs that every student might have, such as books and food

What DSA can pay for (GOV.UK)

How DSA is paid

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

How much you can get

In England, a single allowance of up to £25,575 is available to full-time and part-time undergraduate or postgraduate students.

How much you get depends on your needs. DSA does not depend on your household income.

The £25,575 cap does not apply to travel costs, so you can receive more with travel costs included.

Disabled Students' Allowance (GOV.UK)

In Wales, full-time and part-time undergraduate or postgraduate students can get up to £32,546 a year for support.

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 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.

Eligible courses

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
  • 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, 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: how to apply

Download a DSA paper application form

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 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

Getting advice

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

You can get more information from:

Disabled Students Helpline

Into Higher Education guide (Disability Rights UK)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 11/05/2022

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