University funding for disabled students

Student loans can help with course fees and living costs while you study.

You can apply for funding to cover extra costs if you are disabled. This includes Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) and bursaries from universities or charitable trusts. Unlike student loans, you do not have to pay these back.

You may still qualify for some disability benefits while you study.

Undergraduate loans

You can apply for a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan for living costs.

If you live in England, you’ll need to apply to Student Finance England.

If you live in Wales, you’ll need to apply to Student Finance Wales.

Tuition fee loan

You can apply for a tuition fee loan of up to £9,250.

Your university or college sets your tuition fee. The loan goes directly to them.

Maintenance loan for living costs

You can apply for a loan to help with living costs. The loan is paid directly into your bank account each term. You have to pay the loan back.

Repaying your student loans (GOV.UK)

The amount you can borrow depends on:

  • your household income
  • where you live or study
  • how many credits you will study over a year

How much you could borrow as a full-time student (GOV.UK)

What counts as household income (GOV.UK)

You can only apply for a maintenance loan as a distance learning student if your condition means that you cannot attend your course in person.

Use the student finance calculator to estimate your maintenance loan (GOV.UK).

If you’re a full-time undergraduate and you qualify for certain benefits like Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance, you can get an extra amount in your maintenance loan called the Special Support element. This is worth up to £3,680 and does not count as income when your benefits are calculated.

Warning If you’re a part-time student

Student Finance will ask how many credits you’ll study when you apply for the loan.

Check with your university or college if you’re not sure.

Find out how much you could borrow as a part-time student on GOV.UK

Eligibility

Whether you qualify for undergraduate student finance depends on:

  • your university or college
  • your course
  • if you’ve studied a higher education course before
  • your nationality and residency status

You can apply for a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan if you’re studying an eligible course, like a first degree or a foundation degree.

Ask your university or college if your course qualifies for funding.

You can apply for student funding if you’re a UK national or if you normally live in the UK.

Find out what residency information and evidence you need on Student Finance England.

Warning If you did not finish a degree because of disability or health reasons

Postgraduate loans

If you’re starting a postgraduate degree, you can apply for postgraduate loans to help with course fees and living costs.

Find out how much you could borrow as a postgraduate student (GOV.UK).

Master’s degree loan

A master’s degree loan may help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master’s course.

How much you borrow depends on when you started your course. It is not based on you or your family’s income.

Check if you’re eligible for a master’s loan (GOV.UK).

Doctoral loan

You can apply for a postgraduate doctoral loan to help with fees and living costs.

The amount you’ll get is not based on you or your family’s income.

Check if you’re eligible for a doctoral loan in England (GOV.UK).

Check if you’re eligible for a doctoral loan in Wales (Student Finance Wales).

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)

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

You can get the allowances on top of your other student loans. You will not have to pay them back.

What DSAs can pay for

You may get help paying for:

  • 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
  • other disability-related costs of studying, like extra hard copies of materials or a small fridge to store medication
  • disability-related travel costs

What DSAs can pay for (GOV.UK)

How much you get depends on what support you need to study, not your household income.

How DSAs are paid

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

Check you’re eligible for DSAs

How to apply

Online

Most full-time and part-time students can apply online to Student Finance England.

If you need support to use a computer, call Student Finance England on 0300 100 0607.

Paper forms

You can print out the forms you need from the form finder on GOV.UK.

Student Finance England

Telephone: 0300 100 0607

NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0300 100 0607

Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

Saturday, 9am to 4pm

In Wales

If you’re in Wales, contact Student Finance Wales.

Student Finance Wales

Telephone: 0300 200 4050

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Student Finance Wales

Extra funding

Check the student finance calculator on GOV.UK to see what extra help you might be able to get.

Grants

You may be able to claim grants from charitable trusts to help with extra disability-related costs.

Use the grants checker.

Bursaries and awards

Bursaries and awards are like grants and you do not have to pay them back. Talk to your student support service to find out if you can get financial support.

If you’re a postgraduate and you want to teach in a school, you can apply for bursaries and scholarships to fund your teacher training.

Find out how much you could get at Get into teaching (GOV.UK).

Scholarships

Some universities and trusts offer scholarships for disabled students.

These scholarships are based on merit and do not take into account any other funding.

Contact your university to see if they offer scholarships.

If you’re a studying a master’s degree, you may be able to get a scholarship from Snowdon Trust.

University and college hardship funds

You could get extra money from your university or college if you’re experiencing financial hardship.

For example, if you’re:

  • disabled
  • a mature student with existing financial commitments
  • a student that was previously in care (a ‘care leaver’)

Contact the student services department at your university or college. They’ll decide if you qualify.

Benefits

Your student income does not affect disability benefits like Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance. 

How student funding affects your benefits

Students with children

You may be able to apply for:

  • Childcare Grant for full-time students only
  • Parents’ Learning Allowance for full-time students only
  • Child Tax Credit

Check the student finance calculator on GOV.UK to see what extra help you may be able to get.

Talk to our disabled student adviser in our online community.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 30/05/2019

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