Coronavirus: information and updates

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.

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)

If you’re studying a higher education course, you can apply for 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.

You may get help paying for:

  • non-medical helpers, such as sign language interpreters or specialist mentors
  • specialist equipment, such as assistive software so you can 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

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

Disabled Students Allowances

Scholarships and grants

You could be entitled to extra funding from charities, organisations or your university. The money can support your studies or help with disability-related costs. The eligibility will vary, so check the criteria. You can see what funding is available by using:

Finding extra funding

Organisations that offer support include:

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’)

Many providers have set up new funds designed to provide grants for financial difficulties arising from issues relating to coronavirus. The funds help with the purchase of laptops so students can access remote teaching and learning. Contact the student services department at your university or college. They’ll decide if you qualify.


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

How student funding affects your benefits

Students with children

You may be able to apply for:

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

You can apply for a loan to help with living costs. The loan is paid directly into your bank account each term. You must 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 if you're part-time student

Student finance: New full-time student (GOV.UK)

Student finance: Part-time students (GOV.UK)

Student finance: 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.

Special Support element

If you’re a full-time undergraduate, you could get an extra amount in your maintenance loan called the Special Support element. This is added onto your Student Finance application if you:

  • get PIP or DLA
  • are deaf and qualify for DSAs
  • are registered blind

This is worth up to £3,680 and does not count as income when your benefits are calculated.

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

You may still be eligible for some funding. 

Check the student finance calculator (GOV.UK)

Postgraduate loans

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

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.

Master’s loan: What you’ll get (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.

Doctoral loan: Eligibility (GOV.UK)

Eligibility: Postgraduate study (Student Finance Wales)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 22/12/2020

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