WHAT IS A DSA? Some higher education students can get extra money through Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).
This guide explains how to apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance using the DSA1 form.
Higher education students who live in England can apply for the extra financial help.
Disabled Students’ Allowances get paid on top of standard student finance package.
That is good news for those who are studying in the UK because DSAs do not have to be repaid. DSA allowances can cover extra disability-related expenses or costing while you study. Disabled Students’ Allowances payments are separate to most college or university adjustments.
What Disabilities Qualify for Disability Students Allowance?
The level of support you can get depends on your specific individual needs. DSAs are not related to your income. But, you must meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010.
You can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance if you have a physical or mental disability such as:
- A specific learning difficulty (e.g. dyspraxia or dyslexia).
- A long-term health condition or mental health condition.
Disabled Students Allowance Rates
Your household income does not determine the Disabled Students’ Allowance amount you get.
DSA general allowance gets paid over and above any other student finance you are getting. It can help you pay for the extra costs that your disability may cause and you do not have to repay a DSA.
It is your individual needs which determine how much Disabled Students’ Allowance you get. But, your ‘course intensity’ is likely to affect the amount you get if you are a part-time student.
The figures show the maximum amounts Disabled Students’ Allowances. But, in fact most students receive less than the maximums shown in the table.
2022 to 2023 Academic Year
The financial support that undergraduate and postgraduate students can get is up to a maximum of £25,575 per year.
2021 to 2022 Academic Year
The financial support that undergraduate and postgraduate students can get is up to a maximum of £25,000 per year.
2020 to 2021 Academic Year
|Student Type||Specialist Equipment Allowance||Non-medical Helper Allowance||General Allowance|
|Full-time Student||£5,849 for the whole course||£23,258 a year||£1,954 a year|
|Part-time Student||£5,849 for the whole course||£17,443 a year||£1,465 a year|
|Postgraduate||N/A||N/A||£20,580 a year (single allowance)|
What does Disabled Students Allowance Cover?
You can get DSAs to help cover the cost of:
- Types of specialist equipment for studying (e.g. computer or software needed for your disability).
- Non-medical helpers such as a reader or a note-taker.
- Extra travel costs incurred because of your disability.
- Certain other disability-related costs to study (e.g. Braille paper or tapes).
Claimants will get assessed to see what specialist equipment they might need. In some cases you can get a new personal computer if you are without one. The same applies if your current computer fails to meet the required specification.
But, you must pay the first £200 if you are buying a computer. This is the least amount that any student is likely to incur for a computer purchase.
Note: A Disabled Students’ Allowance does not cover the disability-related cost you would have if you did not attend a course. DSAs cannot pay for any costs that a regular student might have.
Your Individual Needs Assessment
Student Finance England may ask you to contact an assessment centre after your DSA eligibility gets confirmed. The assessment centre will determine what help you need.
The evaluation process is a ‘needs assessment’. You should not book this appointment until Student Finance England request you to attend. Any DSA entitlement you get will also pay for your needs assessment.
You will receive a report after your assessment. The report lists any equipment and other support you can get for your course. Disabled Student Allowances get paid into your bank account in most cases. But, sometimes the money goes straight to the organisation providing the services or products.
Note: Wait until you have had the assessment before you buy any equipment. You would not get reimbursed for it if your DSA application fails.
Disabled Students’ Allowance Eligibility Criteria
There are some common disabilities associated with claims for the Disabled Students’ Allowance. You should make a claim for DSA if you have a disability such as:
- A long-term health condition or a mental health condition.
- A specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD).
The Disabled Students’ Allowance eligibility criteria means you must also:
- Be an undergraduate or postgraduate student (includes distance learning or Open University).
- Have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to study.
- Meet the qualification criteria for student finance from Student Finance England.
- Be studying on a higher education course that lasts for at least one year.
Ineligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance
Student Finance England will not grant you a DSA if you are:
- A European Union student.
- Eligible for the separate scheme of NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance.
- Receiving equivalent support from another source of funding source (e.g. from a social work bursary or a university).
How to Prove Eligibility for Disabled Student Allowance
DSA claimants do not automatically qualify so you will need to prove your eligibility.
|Type of Health Condition||Type of Proof Required|
|Disabilities or long-term health condition||Report or letter from your doctor or consultant (or the disability evidence form)|
|Mental-health condition||Report or letter from your doctor or consultant (or the disability evidence form)|
|Specific learning difficulty like dyslexia||A ‘diagnostic assessment’ from a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher. You will need to get reassessed if it was done when you were under 16.|
Note: If you can get the extra money to pay for university it may also cover the cost of getting a new diagnostic assessment.
Your higher education course must be taking place the United Kingdom. Qualifying education courses include:
- First degree (e.g. BA, BSc or BEd)
- Foundation Degree
- Certificate of Higher Education
- Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- Higher National Diploma (HND)
- Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
- Postgraduate course
- Initial Teacher Training
Note: Check your course gets recognised at your university or college.
Part-time Course Intensity
The ‘course intensity’ for part-time students can affect the amount you get. Course intensity relates to course time compared to an equivalent full-time course. Check the comparisons with your university or college because the rules are different.
Part-time Postgraduate Master’s Courses
If you are applying for funding for postgraduate study for a part-time master’s degree, the course must not last more than twice as long as the full-time equivalent.
Part-time Courses Started before 1st September 2012
Your course must not last more than twice as long as the equivalent full-time course.
Part-time Courses Starting from 1st September 2012
You must study at a rate of at least 25% of an equivalent full-time course in each academic year. The course must last at least a year.
How to Apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance
Disabled Students’ Allowance Information Guide
You should contact the disability adviser for further advice at your college or university. They can best guide you about getting financial help from DSAs.
What if Your Circumstances Change?
If there is a change in your circumstances you should contact Student Finance England. Circumstantial changes usually affect what your entitlements. Likewise, you may be able to get extra help if your condition worsens.
Disabled Students’ Allowance Appeals
There are steps you can take if your Disabled Students’ Allowance application gets turned down. You can ask them for an explanation or you can sometimes get your case reviewed. You can contact Student Finance in England for more information about DSA appeals.