A Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a grant to help with any extra essential costs you may have as a direct result of your disability. Content provided by Student Finance England.

Eligible disabilities could include a:

  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia

A DSA doesn't depend on household income – what you can get depends on your own needs. You don't have to pay it back.

What's available?

DSA can cover:

  • day-to-day costs of studying that are related to the student’s disability, e.g. photocopying costs
  • specialist equipment, e.g. a computer or disability-related software – any equipment bought must have been included in the report from their Study Needs Assessment (and if the assessment recommends they need a computer or laptop, the student will have to pay £200 towards it)
  • a non-medical helper, e.g. a British Sign Language interpreter (this person can't be a friend or family member of the student)
Maximum allowance for the 2020 to 2021 academic year Maximum allowance for the 2021 to 2022 academic year
£20,580 £25,000

There are also exceptions for students who need more money for travel costs. You don’t have to be getting a Postgraduate Loan to get this extra support.


You can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if you have a disability that affects your ability to study, such as a:

  • learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or ADHD
  • mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression
  • physical disability, such as if you’re partially sighted or have to use crutches
  • long-term health condition, such as cancer, chronic heart disease, or HIV

You must also:

  • be an undergraduate or postgraduate student (including Open University or distance learning)
  • qualify for student finance from Student Finance England
  • be studying on a full-time or part-time course that lasts at least one year

You can’t get a DSA if you’re:

  • an EU student
  • eligible for the NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance (this is a separate scheme)
  • getting equivalent support from another funding source, like from your university or a social work bursary

There is no age limit for who can get a DSA.

How to apply

You need to apply using a paper DSA1 form. You’ll be able to download this from www.gov.uk/studentfinance when the service opens.

The application process for DSAs can take around 14 weeks. You should apply and send Student Finance England your evidence as early as possible to make sure you’ll have everything you need ready for the start of your course.


You won't automatically get a DSA – you'll need to send Student Finance England evidence. When sending them evidence, remember to send copies, not originals.

Condition Evidence
Disability or long-term health condition A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant – Student Finance England can also accept a disability evidence form.
Mental health condition A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant – Student Finance England can also accept a disability evidence form.
Specific learning difficulty A copy of a 'diagnostic assessment' from a practitioner psychologist, or suitably qualified specialist teacher.

Study needs assessment

If you’re eligible for a DSA, Student Finance England (SFE) may ask you to arrange a study needs assessment to find out what equipment and support you need for your course.

This is an informal meeting with an experienced Needs Assessor to discuss what equipment and support will help you get the most from your course.

A needs assessment is different from a diagnostic assessment, which is used as evidence of dyslexia. Even if you’ve had a diagnostic assessment, you must also have a needs assessment.

You should only book a needs assessment if Student Finance England tells you to.

You can use your postcode to find your nearest assessment centre.

Your study needs assessment

After you contact the assessment centre:

  •  they’ll confirm your booking within one working day
  •  your appointment should take place within 15 working days
  • Student Finance England should receive the final report within ten working days.

You can review your report before it’s sent to Student Finance England – if you choose to do this, you’ll receive your report within five working days of your assessment.