This guide was created by Lead Scotland, a charity providing support for disabled people to learn.

About Disabled Students’ Allowance

If you are disabled, have a mental or physical health condition, or additional learning support needs, your college or university have a duty to support you and remove or reduce the barriers you face in learning and studying.

Support could include getting extra time to complete your exams, offering you specialist equipment, or providing you with an educational support worker. 

If you are studying at Higher National Certificate (HNC) level or above, you may also be able to claim extra funding to support you to learn. 

This extra funding is called Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). DSA is available regardless of how much income or savings you have, it does not need to be paid back and it does not affect any benefits or other student funding you get.

It is provided by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) if you are ordinarily resident in Scotland. 

DSA is split into three parts

Consumable items allowance

This is for items such as extra photocopying, braille or Livescribe paper and ink cartridges. The maximum amount each year is £1,725 (pro rata for part time study).

Equipment, software and accessories allowance

This is for items such as assistive technology, specialist software, laptops, scanners and printers. The maximum amount is £5,160 for the whole of your course of study (not per year).

Non-medical Personal Help allowance

This is for any course-related personal assistance you need. For example, sign language interpreters or communication assistants, proofreaders or autism/mental health mentors. The maximum amount each year is £20,520 (pro rata for part time study).

Travel costs

You can also get help with travel costs if you cannot use public transport as a result of being disabled. For example, if you experience anxiety on buses then you may be able to get funding for a taxi, or if you have mobility issues you may be able to get mileage paid for you or someone driving you.

How to apply

If you are applying for DSA for the first time, follow the below steps. The whole process of applying for DSA and arranging support can take a few months to arrange, so it’s really important you don’t wait until your course starts before you apply.

Applications for DSA open every year around the end of April. This is a quick guide to the process; please follow this link for the full SAAS guidance notes on applying for DSA. Although most colleges and universities will not start to process your DSA application until you have a confirmed offer, some will, so contact the provider you are expecting to attend to discuss it with them as early as possible.

Steps to applying


If you are unhappy with the needs assessment report, you should discuss this with your assessor. If you cannot resolve the situation informally then you should make a formal appeal to ask them to review the decision.

In rare circumstances you can ask SAAS for a new needs assessment from a different assessment centre independent to your case. If you want to appeal a decision made by SAAS related to your application then you can access their appeals process here.

Further information

Questions about applying for DSA?

If you have any questions about applying for DSA, you can phone the SAAS helpline on 0300 555 0505 and then press option 1.