Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are grants that can contribute towards some of the additional costs of studying at university with a disability or long-term health condition.
DSAs are usually provided by your funding body and paid on top of your standard student finance package. They do not have to be paid back and are not means-tested. The amount you receive depends on the extra support you need, not on your household income.
What will DSAs pay for?
DSAs may help with the costs of:
- specialist equipment, eg a computer if you need one because of your disability
- non-medical helpers, such as mental health mentoring and study skills for dyslexia
- extra travel needed as a result of your disability
- other disability-related costs of studying
Your exact entitlement will be determined by a full assessment of study needs and can be reviewed throughout your programme of study. See the gov.uk web page on DSAs for further information.
DSAs don’t cover disability-related costs you’d have if you weren't attending a course, or costs that any student might have.
Am I eligible?
DSAs are available to home (UK) students who have a disability, health condition or learning difficulty. You will need to apply to your relevant funding body with a copy of your medical evidence and/or educational psychologist's report.
Please see below the links to the relevant funding bodies:
- Student Finance England
- Student Awards Agency Scotland
- Student Finance Wales
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
- NHS Bursaries
- NHS Social Work Bursaries (for postgraduate students only)
If you are an international student, postgraduate research student or apprenticeship student, please contact your practitioner to discuss funding opportunities.
When should I apply?
You can apply for DSAs as soon as you have applied to University. There is no cut-off date and you can apply if you are already a student, but the process can take several weeks so you should apply as soon as possible.
Applying early will maximise the chances of support being in place from the start of your course. Application forms are usually available online from Easter for the next academic year.
If you have any queries about this process, are unsure of your funding body, or would just like help applying, please contact us.
How can I apply?
If you’re a full time student you can apply online via your student finance account if you’ve applied for student finance. If you’re not applying for student finance you can apply using the DSA paper application.
Part time students can apply using the paper application form on the DSA website.
Once you have sent your application and evidence you will get confirmation of whether your application is successful within 6 weeks. If your application is accepted you will need to book a ‘needs assessment’ by contacting an Assessment Centre, listed in the following pdf document: find a needs assessment centre.
In the needs assessment, the needs assessor will ask you about how your condition affects your ability to study and will make recommendations to student finance based on this.
The needs assessor then sends a report to student finance who will then contact you informing you what you are entitled to.
This process can take up to 14 weeks to get your DSA support in place.
Further information and support
If you’re applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs, you may be asked to arrange a study needs assessment.
Student Finance England have produced several videos to help you understand what DSAs are and what's involved when you apply.
They can all be found on the Student Finance England YouTube channel.
The DSA Hub - Your resources for all things DSA
Refunds for disability related costs
If you have a disability, you may be entitled to a refund of upfront costs.