Below are a number of frequently asked questions when applying for the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA).

What is the Disabled Students' Allowance?

The DSA contributes towards the additional costs you may incur during your course, due to your disability or Specific Learning Difference. It is not a loan and does not need repaying. The DSA is non-means tested and is based on your needs. There are, however, restrictions on what the DSA can be used for which will be discussed in your Study Needs Assessment. You will not receive a monetary award, but the suppliers of your support will be paid directly by your funding body.

To access the DSA you will need to apply to your funding body. This will normally be the same organisation from which you are receiving your general student funding.

Am I eligible to apply?

You can apply for the DSA if you are:

  • On a full-time or part-time undergraduate course (for example, a degree or HNC-level course) including Open University and other distance-learning courses; or
  • On an eligible full-time or part-time postgraduate course (which you need a degree or equivalent qualification to get onto), including Open University and other distance-learning courses, that lasts at least one year; or
  • On an eligible unpaid Sandwich course, and
  • Have a disability, mental health condition, or a Specific Learning Difference, which affects your ability to study.

If you are unsure about your eligibility, you should contact your funding body or your institution's disability team for guidance.

When can I apply for the DSA?

If you are a prospective student, you should apply for the DSA as soon as possible after applying for a place at university; you do not have to wait until after your exams or after receiving your results. The DSA process (from application to implementation of support) is lengthy and can take up to 14 weeks. Therefore, the sooner you apply the more likely the support you need can be put in place, in time for the start of your course. Forms are usually available from March in the year of application.

If you are already at university, you should apply immediately as you can apply for the DSA at any time during your course. Please be aware that Student Finance England's Student Support Regulations does indicate a time limit for applications for DSA as nine months from the start of the academic year. However, this can be extended as long as the application for DSA has been made as soon as is reasonably practicable.

If you are unsure about whether or not to apply for the DSA, speak to your institution's disability team.

How to apply?

The course you are studying and where you live in the UK determines which funding body you will need to submit your DSA application to. Please find below a list of funding bodies which have been hyperlinked to their home pages:

Process for claiming the Disabled Students' Allowance

1. Apply for DSA

Apply to your funding body to request assistance with the costs of disability-related support and equipment. Complete the relevant DSA application form and submit this along with your medical evidence or diagnostic report to your funding body.

Timescale: It can take your funding body two to three weeks to reply.

2. Authorisation received from a Funding Body to have a Needs Assessment

You will be sent an email or a letter which asks you to make an appointment at an Access Centre where you will see a Needs Assessor. During your appointment, your Needs Assessor will discuss your needs and make appropriate recommendations for your support. Contact your nearest Access Centre and book an appointment. 

For more information or to book an appointment please contact us.

Timescale: the maximum amount of time you would need to wait for an appointment is three weeks.

3. Needs Assessment Report Production

After your Study Needs Assessment, your Assessor will prepare a report which includes a bid for funding for your support costs. Once completed, this will be sent by the Assessment Centre to your funding body for their consideration.

Timescale: the Access Centre has up to two weeks to produce and quality assure your Needs Assessment Report.

4. Funding Body Processing

Your funding body will process your report and write to you to tell you what recommendations have been approved. This is called a DSA2 letter.

Timescale: two to six weeks.

Once you have been advised what you are eligible for through the DSA, your funded support can be put in place and any recommended equipment can be ordered. You will need to contact each supplier to put your support in place. If you are unsure about how to proceed, contact the Assessment Centre where you were assessed or the Disability Adviser at your institution.