The Student Room Group

Managing Disability and the Finances of University

Was wondering if anyone could give me advice when it comes to being neurodivergent and dealing with the finances of university

Really sorry it’s so long. My main question is at the bottom for those (like me) who want to cry when having to read anything longer than a few words.

I have Dyslexia, ADHD and PMDD
Both my dyslexia and ADHD affect my ability to do school work. It often takes me a lot longer to complete work/study. I am very willing to put in this extra work. Currently at sixthform taking three subjects that all have both exams and coursework. I spend most of my time out of lessons doing work/study.

Side (ish) note I also have PMDD - a mental illness connected with menstruation that causes both serve physical and mental affects. (Basically really extreme PMS)

When looking at what financial aid I can get for university I am entitled to a Maintenance Loan and DSA (Disabled Students Allowance).

Based on the ‘Student finance calculator’ I am supposedly entitled to around £5,111.

Have no idea how much I may be entitled to for DSA. The way DSA works (to my understanding) is that the money can only be used on things for your disability. So I can only spend it on things that I need because of my Dyslexia and ADHD

Due to family circumstances I will receive no financial assistance from them

(I am basing this information off the financials of my current first choice for university)

The price of student accommodation in the area (I cannot afford to live in the university halls)
On average is £179 pw
With the lowest being around £115-120 and the highest being around £310-320

For a year this would be (average) £8,592

Assuming I receive the amount mentioned above in maintenance loans that would be £15,333 a year

So over the year after rent I would have £6741

Baring in mind I know some accommodation offer a lower rent during July/August (summer) but it’s unlikely I will be able to return home for any longer than a week.

So after rent on average I would have £561.75 a month

I come from a poor family and have no issue/am very good at living really cheap.

Ideally I would work part time. I mean who doesn’t need a little more money
But due to how my dyslexia and ADHD affects how long work/study takes me I find it hard to see how I would balance study and work. Especially with PMDD. I’ve worked part time before and my studies suffered massively

In the past I have been able to live off about £30 pounds a week for food shopping. (Though I wasn’t necessarily eating the way or the amount I should)

So this would be about £120 a month. Meaning I’d have a remaining £441.75

That alone is more than liveable. My issues is other things I have to buy e.g. Medical stuff, clothes, phone bill, travel etc add up very quickly especially the Medical stuff and Travel (DSA nor anything else will cover the medical stuff).
On top of this I often also cover/ partly cover a lot of family stuff e.g. my brothers school equipment, my dads and mums medication, medication and other necessities for family who live in a country experiencing war & terrorism, as well as often contributing to food shopping, bills and more. This is not something that will change when I go to university, without covering it, it would not be covered and these are all necessities.

My fear is with all of this I will have serious financial issues

This would probably be less of an issue if I were able to work part time. Assuming that I won’t. Does anyone know of any way that me not being able to work due to dyslexia and ADHD (meaning I take longer to do work/study) would make me eligible for any other form of financial aid. I’ve looked heavily and can’t find anything but was wondering if anyone had any ideas.
Or for anyone who has something that causes study/work to take longer and works part time. How do you balance the two?
Original post by MiaALD91
Was wondering if anyone could give me advice when it comes to being neurodivergent and dealing with the finances of university
Really sorry it’s so long. My main question is at the bottom for those (like me) who want to cry when having to read anything longer than a few words.
I have Dyslexia, ADHD and PMDD
Both my dyslexia and ADHD affect my ability to do school work. It often takes me a lot longer to complete work/study. I am very willing to put in this extra work. Currently at sixthform taking three subjects that all have both exams and coursework. I spend most of my time out of lessons doing work/study.
Side (ish) note I also have PMDD - a mental illness connected with menstruation that causes both serve physical and mental affects. (Basically really extreme PMS)
When looking at what financial aid I can get for university I am entitled to a Maintenance Loan and DSA (Disabled Students Allowance).
Based on the ‘Student finance calculator’ I am supposedly entitled to around £5,111.
Have no idea how much I may be entitled to for DSA. The way DSA works (to my understanding) is that the money can only be used on things for your disability. So I can only spend it on things that I need because of my Dyslexia and ADHD
Due to family circumstances I will receive no financial assistance from them
(I am basing this information off the financials of my current first choice for university)
The price of student accommodation in the area (I cannot afford to live in the university halls)
On average is £179 pw
With the lowest being around £115-120 and the highest being around £310-320
For a year this would be (average) £8,592
Assuming I receive the amount mentioned above in maintenance loans that would be £15,333 a year
So over the year after rent I would have £6741
Baring in mind I know some accommodation offer a lower rent during July/August (summer) but it’s unlikely I will be able to return home for any longer than a week.
So after rent on average I would have £561.75 a month
I come from a poor family and have no issue/am very good at living really cheap.
Ideally I would work part time. I mean who doesn’t need a little more money
But due to how my dyslexia and ADHD affects how long work/study takes me I find it hard to see how I would balance study and work. Especially with PMDD. I’ve worked part time before and my studies suffered massively
In the past I have been able to live off about £30 pounds a week for food shopping. (Though I wasn’t necessarily eating the way or the amount I should)
So this would be about £120 a month. Meaning I’d have a remaining £441.75
That alone is more than liveable. My issues is other things I have to buy e.g. Medical stuff, clothes, phone bill, travel etc add up very quickly especially the Medical stuff and Travel (DSA nor anything else will cover the medical stuff).
On top of this I often also cover/ partly cover a lot of family stuff e.g. my brothers school equipment, my dads and mums medication, medication and other necessities for family who live in a country experiencing war & terrorism, as well as often contributing to food shopping, bills and more. This is not something that will change when I go to university, without covering it, it would not be covered and these are all necessities.
My fear is with all of this I will have serious financial issues
This would probably be less of an issue if I were able to work part time. Assuming that I won’t. Does anyone know of any way that me not being able to work due to dyslexia and ADHD (meaning I take longer to do work/study) would make me eligible for any other form of financial aid. I’ve looked heavily and can’t find anything but was wondering if anyone had any ideas.
Or for anyone who has something that causes study/work to take longer and works part time. How do you balance the two?

Hi @MiaALD91,

These are all completely valid concerns to have, university can cause quite a lot of financial strains and worry for any student, so having disabilities and neurodivergence on top of that can sometimes make it feel almost impossible!

I am also a neurodiverse student, with other disabilities and mental health issues too, so I hope I am able to give you some useful advice and/or reassurance.

Firstly, for me personally DSA has been a lifesaver! If you apply for DSA at the same time as your student finance application (you can apply any time though, even halfway through the academic year) and are eligible, you will have a needs assessment. This is essentially a chat with a disability assessor who will go through the evidence you supply and ask you questions about how your disability affects you. They will then reccommend any equipment they feel would support you (some examples include a laptop (you have to pay a £200 contribution - but most unis have a reinbursement scheme), printer and recording equipment), assistive software, and non medical helper (usually a mentor or a study skills mentor). Just to clear up a quite common misconception - DSA funding goes directly into the equipment/assistance you recieve, so you dont actually see this money.

I would also really reccommend talking to the disability/wellbeing team at your uni. They can provide you more support and answer any more specific concerns/questions you have regarding both your studying and wellbeing at uni.

I also have ADHD so i feel the struggle of feeling like everything takes you 10 times longer than everyone else! If this is something you are particularly struggling with, you can often apply for special considerations such as an extension on a piece of coursework. It is also very likely you would be eligible for extra time in exams, which your disability team will be able to advise you on.

In terms of part time work, most unis have a student ambassador scheme. If you are a student ambassador, you will have the option to work one-off shifts at the uni, e.g., open days or other events. I have found this really useful for me, because I have not been able to hold down a part time job as well as studying, so it is good to be able to pick up some low commitment work if you feel you have enough time for it.

I am not sure in terms of financial support you could receive other than DSA and student finance. I would really reccommend you reaching out to the university and asking them about possible options. Lots of unis have a hardship fund scheme, or offer other financial support for students with other responsibilities such as caring for others.

I hope this answers some of your questions! Please feel free to reply with any other questions/concerns you have :smile:

Lily (UOS rep)
Original post by MiaALD91
Was wondering if anyone could give me advice when it comes to being neurodivergent and dealing with the finances of university
Really sorry it’s so long. My main question is at the bottom for those (like me) who want to cry when having to read anything longer than a few words.
I have Dyslexia, ADHD and PMDD
Both my dyslexia and ADHD affect my ability to do school work. It often takes me a lot longer to complete work/study. I am very willing to put in this extra work. Currently at sixthform taking three subjects that all have both exams and coursework. I spend most of my time out of lessons doing work/study.
Side (ish) note I also have PMDD - a mental illness connected with menstruation that causes both serve physical and mental affects. (Basically really extreme PMS)
When looking at what financial aid I can get for university I am entitled to a Maintenance Loan and DSA (Disabled Students Allowance).
Based on the ‘Student finance calculator’ I am supposedly entitled to around £5,111.
Have no idea how much I may be entitled to for DSA. The way DSA works (to my understanding) is that the money can only be used on things for your disability. So I can only spend it on things that I need because of my Dyslexia and ADHD
Due to family circumstances I will receive no financial assistance from them
(I am basing this information off the financials of my current first choice for university)
The price of student accommodation in the area (I cannot afford to live in the university halls)
On average is £179 pw
With the lowest being around £115-120 and the highest being around £310-320
For a year this would be (average) £8,592
Assuming I receive the amount mentioned above in maintenance loans that would be £15,333 a year
So over the year after rent I would have £6741
Baring in mind I know some accommodation offer a lower rent during July/August (summer) but it’s unlikely I will be able to return home for any longer than a week.
So after rent on average I would have £561.75 a month
I come from a poor family and have no issue/am very good at living really cheap.
Ideally I would work part time. I mean who doesn’t need a little more money
But due to how my dyslexia and ADHD affects how long work/study takes me I find it hard to see how I would balance study and work. Especially with PMDD. I’ve worked part time before and my studies suffered massively
In the past I have been able to live off about £30 pounds a week for food shopping. (Though I wasn’t necessarily eating the way or the amount I should)
So this would be about £120 a month. Meaning I’d have a remaining £441.75
That alone is more than liveable. My issues is other things I have to buy e.g. Medical stuff, clothes, phone bill, travel etc add up very quickly especially the Medical stuff and Travel (DSA nor anything else will cover the medical stuff).
On top of this I often also cover/ partly cover a lot of family stuff e.g. my brothers school equipment, my dads and mums medication, medication and other necessities for family who live in a country experiencing war & terrorism, as well as often contributing to food shopping, bills and more. This is not something that will change when I go to university, without covering it, it would not be covered and these are all necessities.
My fear is with all of this I will have serious financial issues
This would probably be less of an issue if I were able to work part time. Assuming that I won’t. Does anyone know of any way that me not being able to work due to dyslexia and ADHD (meaning I take longer to do work/study) would make me eligible for any other form of financial aid. I’ve looked heavily and can’t find anything but was wondering if anyone had any ideas.
Or for anyone who has something that causes study/work to take longer and works part time. How do you balance the two?

You've done some good research and calculations on your budget. However, you should be aware that when it comes to asking for discretionary funds, ie not things you have an entitlement to, but hardship funds etc, then they will absolutely not take into account giving money to your close or wider family. You will need to stop doing that, if you want to claim hardship funds. Otherwise, what effectively is happening, is that the uni hardship funds are paying for your parents shopping etc. This is the way any 'means tested' funds work.

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