Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)

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What are Disabled Students' Allowances?

What are Disabled Students' Allowances? | Student Finance England
Find out what extra is help available to help students who have a disability, including a long-term health condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. Video provided by Student Finance England.
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Applying for Disabled Students' Allowances for 2017/18

Applying for Disabled Students' Allowances | Student Finance England
Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are extra help for students who have a disability, a mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty, like dyslexia or dyspraxia. Watch this video to find out how and when to apply. Video provided by Student Finance England.
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Who are DSAs for?

You may claim the DSA in addition to your student finance loans and grants to cover any extra study-related costs you incur due to an impairment, mental health condition, or learning difficulty. It is neither a benefit nor a loan, so it doesn’t need repaying. The amount you’ll receive depends on your individual needs not on your income, nor that of your parents or partner. There are some restrictions on what you may use your DSA for, so check the details below carefully.

The DSA is available to both full-time and part-time students, those on unpaid sandwich courses, open and distance students, and those on postgraduate courses. You may apply for a DSA even if you have already taken a higher education course. It is not available to EU or international students, and you may not apply for more than one at a time.

Am I eligible?

You could be eligible for a DSA if you:

  • are a UK national or have settled status (no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK)
  • normally live in England
  • will have been living in the UK for at least three years before the first day of your course

You may also be eligible if you are:

  • an EU national, or a relative of one, and will have lived in the UK for at least five years before the first day of your course
  • a refugee, or a relative of one
  • under Humantiarian Protection, or a relative of someone who is
  • under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least seven years
  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years, or at least half your life
  • an EEA/Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
  • the child of a Swiss national
  • the child of a Turkish worker

How do I apply for a DSA?

  1. You will be asked to provide proof of your impairment, mental health condition, or learning difficulty (e.g. a diagnostic assessment of dyslexia, or letter from a medical authority) and if you are eligible for the DSA, you will be asked to attend a ‘needs assessment’ at a centre of your choice to explore the requirements of your course and your learning needs.
  2. Following this, you will receive a report detailing the equipment and support you will need. You will not be reimbursed for anything you buy before you receive this report, so it is important to wait for it to arrive. For some items, the DSA will be paid into your bank account, and for others, payment will be made directly to whoever is providing the support.
  3. The application and needs assessment process takes approximately 14 weeks, so it’s a good idea to apply immediately after you have applied for student finance.
  4. The details of your DSA and needs assessment report will then be sent to the disability adviser at your chosen university or college, who will then make arrangements for any support or adjustments you require. If you have an EHC plan, your local home authority will, with your permission, forward the details to the DSA assessor as proof of your eligibility, and will help you complete your application.

You may apply for the DSA at any time during your course, but you will have to pay for any tests to establish your eligibility if you do not have current proof. You may be able to apply to the Access to Learning Fund at your university or college for assistance with these costs.

If you are planning to take an eligible healthcare course or social work course, you should apply for your DSA through the NHS.

Eligible postgraduate students will receive their DSA in one single payment for the duration of their course. If you are a postgraduate student applying through Research Councils UK, you will need to apply here. Visit the RCUK website for more information.


What support can I get?

The DSA is slightly different depending where you live in the UK. Select the drop-down option below for the country you live in to find out what support you could be eligible for.

  • England

    The DSA for students in England is made of up four parts:

    1. Non-medical helper allowance – an annual payment to help cover the costs of academic support (e.g. a sign language interpreter).
    2. Specialist equipment allowance – a one-off payment to cover items required for you to study (e.g. assistive technology software). If you require a computer, you will need to pay the first £200.
    3. Travel allowance – reasonable spending on additional costs incurred as a result of a disability (this does not cover everyday costs you would expect to pay for).
    4. General allowance – an annual payment to cover any other disability-related expenses not mentioned (e.g. braille books and photocopying).

    Apply for the DSA through Student Finance England

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in England

  • Wales

    The DSA for students in Wales is made up of four parts:

    1. Non-medical helper allowance – an annual payment to help cover the costs of academic support (e.g. a sign language interpreter).
    2. Specialist equipment allowance – a one-off payment to cover items required for you to study (e.g. assistive technology software).
    3. Travel allowance – reasonable spending on additional costs incurred as a result of a disability (this does not cover everyday costs you would expect to pay for).
    4. General allowance – an annual payment to cover any other disability-related expenses not mentioned (e.g. braille books).

    Apply for the DSA through Student Finance Wales

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in Wales

  • Scotland

    The DSA for students in Scotland is made up of three parts:

    1. Basic allowance – an annual payment to help purchase consumable items (e.g. photocopying and braille paper).
    2. Large items allowance – a one-off payment to enable you to buy or hire items required for you to study (e.g. assistive technology software, or a computer).
    3. Non-medical personal help allowance – an annual payment to help cover the costs of academic support (e.g. a sign language interpreter, or mentoring).

    Students unable to use public transport as a result of a disability may also apply for travel expenses, but you will need to provide medical evidence. Check the full details about eligibility and evidence.

    Apply for the DSA through Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in Scotland

  • Northern Ireland

    The DSA for students in Northern Ireland is made up of four parts:

    1. Non-medical helper allowance – an annual payment to help cover the costs of academic support (e.g. a sign language interpreter).
    2. Specialist equipment allowance – a one-off payment to cover items required for you to study (e.g. assistive technology software).
    3. Travel allowance – reasonable spending on additional costs incurred as a result of a disability (this does not cover everyday costs you would expect to pay for).
    4. General allowance – an annual payment to cover any other disability-related expenses not mentioned (e.g. braille books).

    Apply for the DSA through Student Finance Northern Ireland

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in Northern Ireland

  • Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
    States of Jersey

    The DSA for students in the States of Jersey is made of up two parts:

    1. Non-medical helper’s allowance – an annual payment to help cover the costs of academic support (e.g. a sign language interpreter). This allowance is not means tested. 
    2. Specialist equipment allowance – a one-off payment to help you buy any items required for you to study (e.g. assistive technology software), excluding laptop computers. This allowance is means tested and there may be restrictions if you apply after your course begins. 

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in the States of Jersey


    States of Guernsey

    The DSA for students in the States of Guernsey is made of up two parts:

    1. Non-medical helper’s allowance – an annual payment to help cover the costs of academic support (e.g. a sign language interpreter).
    2. Specialist equipment allowance – a one-off payment to help you buy any items required for you to study (e.g. assistive technology software). 

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in the States of Guernsey


    The Isle of Man

    Disabled students may be entitled to DSA support to help cover substantial additional expenses incurred as a result of an impairment, mental health condition, or learning difference.

    Eligible students should contact the Student Awards Section for a DSA Guide and Application Form.

    Find out more about applying for the DSA in the Isle of Man