Disabled Students Allowance
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:
- Applications to Student Finance England.
- Applications to Student Finance Wales.
- Applications to Student Finance Northern Ireland.
- Applications to the Scottish Awards Agency.
- Applications to Jersey and Guernsey.
- Applications to the NHS Business Services Team and Social Work Bursary Team.
- Applications to Research Councils.
Process for claiming the Disabled Students' Allowance
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.