Disabled Students'Allowance (DSA)
This is a grant which is available to UK students who otherwise may not have been able to attend a higher education course as a result of a disability.
You can get this allowance if:
- You are a UK student.
- You're an undergraduate or postgraduate student (including distance learning students).
- You’re studying a first higher education course.
- The condition affects your ability to study and you can provide evidence. This could include one or more long term medical conditions, such as diabetes, fibromyalgia or epilepsy, a hearing or visual impairment, a mobility issue, a mental health condition, such as depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD or anxiety, ADHD or Autistic Spectrum Conditions.
The funds can be used to support specialist tutor support, mental health mentoring and Assistive Technology training and equipment. The level of support varies between funding bodies.
How to apply for DSA
You will need to provide evidence of a disability. This could be a report from an Educational Psychologist, confirming learning differences, such as dyslexia, or confirmation from a medical professional of a long term disability which will have an impact on your ability to study by completing a medical evidence form.
Once you have this evidence, you should complete a DSA application form. There are different forms for full-time, part-time and postgraduate students. If you are a full-time undergraduate student who receives a student loan, you should complete the DSA1 Slimline form. If you are a part-time or postgraduate student, you should complete the DSA1 Full form. Both forms are available on your own funding body’s website.
Getting proof of your disability or specific learning difficulty
You will need to satisfy your funding body that the effects of your condition will mean that you will need to pay extra costs in attending your course. If you are disabled, or have mental health difficulties, you will need to provide medical proof of your disability, such as a letter from your doctor or specialist. If you have more than one medical condition, you should provide evidence for all of them.
If you have a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia), your funding body will need evidence of this from a suitably qualified person (such as an Educational Psychologist or specialist teacher). If your assessment was carried out before you were 16, your funding body may ask for an update to see what the likely effect of your specific learning difficulty will have on the skills you need for higher education.
Your university or college disability adviser may be able to help you arrange an updated, or new, assessment. Your funding body cannot meet the costs of diagnosing your disability for establishing your eligibility for DSAs.
How much do you receive?
This is very much based on your individual needs, but there are maximums for the different allowances. When you apply, your funding body will ask you to have a needs assessment to establish exactly what support you require. This will be carried out by a person with a specialist assessor at an assessment centre such as Glyndŵr Assessment Centre. The cost of the needs assessment may be met through your Disabled Students' Allowance.
Allowances for full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students vary.
When do I apply?
Apply as soon as you can before your course starts in order to receive payments promptly. However, you can apply for DSAs at any stage of your course.
The DSA process
Your funding body will ask you to have a DSA Needs Assessment carried out, so that your particular needs can be matched with those of your proposed course to ensure that you get the help that you will need.
The assessment will identify the types of equipment and other support you will need, how much it will cost and where to get it from. It will also identify any training you might need to make the best use of the equipment recommended, and detail any special examination arrangements. The cost of your assessment will be paid from the Disabled Students' Allowance.
You should not arrange for a DSA Needs Assessment without first confirming with your funding body that they agree for you to do so.