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What is a DSA?
A Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) covers some of the extra study-related costs you incur due to an impairment, mental health condition, or learning difference. This is a non-repayable allowance which is in addition to other student finance.
The amount you’ll receive depends on your individual needs not on your income, nor that of your parents or partner. However, there are some restrictions on what you may use a DSA for and there are regional differences around the UK, so check the details below carefully.
Three key points
- A DSA is available to full-time and part-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including unpaid sandwich courses and distance learning courses lasting one year or more. Note: If you're planning to take an eligible healthcare or social work course, you should apply for your DSA through the NHS.
- You don't have to have a confirmed university place to apply for a DSA. In fact, it's best to apply as early as possible but you can apply at any point during your studies. You can apply for a DSA when you apply for student finance.
- You will be asked to provide proof of your impairment, condition, or learning difference (e.g. a diagnostic assessment of dyslexia, or a letter from a medical authority) and will be invited to attend a needs assessment once your application has been reviewed.
Your full guide to DSAs from Diversity and Ability
We're pleased to work with Diversity and Ability – an award-winning, disabled-led social enterprise that aims to create more inclusive cultures in higher education, where diversity is valued, and students can thrive.
Since 2011, Diversity and Ability has supported over 18,000 students through the DSA process and has seen first-hand the benefits it can have on student wellbeing and attainment. Their DSA: Find Your Way guide aims to demystify the application process and explains more about what support is available, and how it is provided to students while they study.
DSAs around the UK
DSAs are slightly different depending where you live in the UK. Visit the country links below to get full details on eligibility, how to apply, and the support available:
- England: Student Finance England
- Wales: Student Finance Wales
- Scotland: Student Awards Agency Scotland
- Northern Ireland: Student Finance NI
- The Channel Islands and Isle of Man:
Find your local assessment centre on gov.uk after you've received your approval letter.
The Research Council's UK website has more information if you are a postgraduate student applying through RCUK.