Guide To The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
What is the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)?
For a brief summary of the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) watch our video below. For a more detailed overview keep reading.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a UK government-funded program providing students financial grants to cover any extra study expenses a student may have due to a disability.
You do not need to repay the DSA as it is not a loan and the amount disbursed will be dependent on your individual needs, rather than your income or that of your partner or parents.
Both part-time and full-time students can get access to the DSA including those on postgraduate, distance learning and Open University courses.
It is always recommended to apply as early as possible so you have your support in place for when you commence your studies and you can apply for the DSA even if you are yet to receive confirmation of acceptance into a university. If for whatever reason this isn’t possible, you can also apply at any point throughout your course.
Unlike the normal student loan, you are still eligible for the Disabled Student Allowance even if you have already completed a higher education course previously.
Who is eligible for the DSA?
“You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.”
Any student in the UK can apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) as long as you have evidence to show that you have a:
- Long term illness or health condition. e.g Cancer, HIV, Diabetes
- Specific learning difficulty (SpLD) or Autistic Spectrum Disorder. e.g. Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Asperger’s Syndrome
- Mental health condition. e.g. Depression, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Anxiety
- Physical or sensory impairment. e.g. a wheelchair user, a person with a visual impairment, a person with a hearing impairment.
You need to have been previously diagnosed with any of these conditions and have proof from a doctor when you apply. Alternatively, if you have an SpLD you will need a diagnostic report done by a specialist practitioner.
What type of support is awarded to disabled students?
The type of support available will vary depending on the individual and the course undertaken. Support can include:
- Specialist equipment allowance – This may include things such as assistive technology software and hardware or ergonomic equipment.
- Non-medical helper allowance – This covers the cost of the expense of certain 1:1 support (e.g. hiring a sign language interpreter, a study skills tutor or a mentor).
- General Allowance – This is to cover disability-related expenses (e.g. increased photocopying or printing due to your condition).
- Travel allowance – This covers additional spending on transport as a result of your approved condition.
What is the application procedure for the disabled students’ allowance?
- Obtain proof of your condition from a diagnostic assessment given by a medical authority.
- Send your completed DSA application along with a photocopy of your evidence to your funding body.
- Your funding body will review your application along with your evidence and If you qualify you will receive an eligibility letter.
- Your eligibility letter will advise you to attend a study needs assessment at a centre like A2B Assessments. Here the assessor will determine your specific needs and requirements for your course and then complete a needs assessment report.
- Your need assessment report is sent to you and your funding body. Your funding body will process your report and send you an entitlement letter detailing all the support that has been agreed and explaining how to put it into place.
How to apply for the DSA?
How you apply will depend on where you live in the UK:
- If you live in England need to apply to Student Finance England. You can do so here.
If your course is funded by the NHS, then you will need to apply to the NHS Student Bursaries office here.
- If you are a Northern Ireland student you can find out how to apply here.
- If you are a Scottish student then you will be funded by Students Awards Agency for Scotland and you can find out more here.
- If you are a Welsh student you will be funded by Student Finance Wales and can learn how to apply here.