What is Disabled Students' Allowance?
DSA is money that students can get on top of their Student Finance. It can help pay for support that a student may need at university as a direct result of a disability, health condition or specific learning difference.
DSA does not have to be paid back and it does not depend on your household income.
What does DSA pay for?
DSA only covers costs that are directly linked to aspects of your disability which affect your ability to study. This might include:
- specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
- non-medical helpers, such as specialist study skills tutors, mentors or assistive technology trainers
- extra travel because of your disability
- other disability-related costs of studying, such as extra printing and photocopying.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible you must:
- be a UK resident
- be studying on an undergraduate or postgraduate course lasting at least a year
- be eligible for Student Finance
- have a disability, health condition (physical or mental), or specific learning difference (such as dyslexia or ADHD) which affects your ability to study.
How do I apply?
Our Accessibility team can advise and support you through the application process. You can also look at the useful links below.
- Help if you're a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability (detailed UK Government site).
- Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) guide 2020.
Below are the different Student Finance websites for each UK country:
- England – Student Finance England (SFE)
- Scotland – Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
- Wales – Student Finance Wales
- Northern Ireland – Student Finance NI.
The DSA Study Needs Assessment
If your application for DSA is successful, you will get a letter from your funding body (known as a DSA 1) telling you to book a Study Needs Assessment. You will not need to pay for this yourself.
The Study Needs Assessment tends to be a structured but fairly informal one-to-one discussion with a Study Needs Assessor which will usually last between one and two hours. The assessment has two main parts – firstly your assessor will ask you for more information about how you study and the areas that you feel you may struggle with. This will include talking about things like carrying out research for assignments, writing essays, taking notes, revising for exams, undertaking practical work, getting around university and more.
The second part will be a chance to evaluate different types of support. This will usually include looking at some different software and equipment and discussing one-to-one support. You will be asked whether you think the support will be useful and be given the opportunity to ask questions yourself, so it’s good to have a think beforehand about any particular areas you are worried about or want more information on.
By the end of the Study Needs Assessment, you and your assessor will have agreed on what support is going to be recommended. The assessor will then write a report giving details of your support and send a copy to you, your funding body and (with your permission) your university. Once your funding body has received this report, they will send you another letter (known as a DSA 2) to confirm which recommendations they agree to fund. This letter will tell you what to do and who to contact to arrange any equipment, software, training and one-to-one support.
Non-medical helper handbook
If you have recently been allocated a non-medical helper (study skills tutor, mentor or support worker), please read your
to find out more about your support.
If you are not eligible
See our 'No DSA software, no problem' page for information about useful free study skills software. Or, download a Word version of 'No DSA software, no problem.'