Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) for students who normally live in England

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is support to help with any extra essential costs you may have as a direct result of your disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia. This information is relevant to students who normally live in England.

What's available?

2024 to 2025 academic year

Full-time and part-time undergraduate or postgraduate students can get up to £26,948 a year for support.

2023 to 2024 academic year

Full-time and part-time undergraduate or postgraduate students can get up to £26,291 a year for support.

Eligible disabilities could include a:

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

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

You can get help with:

  • Day-to-day costs of studying that are related to your disability. For example, photocopying costs.
  • Specialist equipment. For example, a computer or disability-related software. Any equipment bought must have been included in the report from your Study Needs Assessment. If your needs assesor recommends that you need a computer or laptop, you’ll have to pay £200 towards it. 
  • A non-medical helper. For example, a British Sign Language interpreter. This person cannot be a friend or family member.
  • Any extra travel costs you may have to attend your university, college, or placement because of your disability. The amount you get will depend on your disability. There are some exceptions for students who may need more travel support.

Eligibility

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

  • learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, 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 DSA if you’re:

  • only eligible to get a Tuition Fee Loan
  • eligible for an 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 DSA.


How to apply

If you’re a full-time student and applying for other student finance, such as a Tuition Fee Loan or Maintenance Loan, you’ll be able to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) from your online account after you’ve submitted your main student finance application.

After you’ve applied for DSA, you’ll be told what evidence you need to submit to Student Finance England to support your application.

If you’re only applying for DSA and no other type of student finance, you need to complete a paper application form (DSA1). You’ll be able to download this from www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms.

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

Applying for a part-time or postgraduate course? You cannot apply online – you must apply with a paper application form (DSA1), which you can download from www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms.

 

Supplying evidence

You won't automatically get DSA – you need to submit evidence to Student Finance England. 

If you’ve applied online you can submit a digital copy of your evidence via your student finance account.

If you don’t have an online account or applied on a paper form, you should send a copy of your evidence with your application or send it later by emailing their DSA team.

You can also post copies of your evidence, if you’d prefer.

Condition Evidence
Disability or long-term health condition A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant — or a copy of a disability evidence form completed by a medical professional.
Mental health condition A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant — or a copy of a disability evidence form completed by a medical professional.
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 DSA, a supplier will get in touch with you to arrange a needs assessment, if you’ve given consent on your application. If you haven’t given consent, Student Finance England will tell you which supplier you need to contact to arrange a needs assessment.

The assessment is paid for through any DSA entitlement you may have. 

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 bring your disability evidence to the assessment. This will be the same evidence you’ve given Student Finance England as part of your application for DSA.

Find out what to expect from your needs assessment.

Arranging your needs assessment

Once you’ve been made eligible for DSA:

  • your supplier will be in touch within five working days of getting your DSA1 eligibility letter
  • you’ll be offered a needs assessment appointment within seven working days of your initial contact with the supplier
  • we’ll get a copy of your needs assessment report and we’ll send your DSA2 entitlement letter within ten working days