Guide to the disabled students allowance

If you have a disability, a specific learning difficulty or some sort of debilitating illness you may be entitled to receive a Disabled Student Allowance while at University.

For a jargon-free, easy to follow, step-by-step guide that will take you through the full DSA process; from application to receiving support see here

What is DSA?

DSAs are provided to cover any extra study-related costs incurred by your disability. They are not means tested, and they are an extra added to any loan or grant you take out. The DSA comes in the form of monetary and/or technical assistance according to your specific requirements. Any money you receive has to be used towards educational costs.

Who is eligible for DSA?

You’re eligible for support if you can provide written proof of your condition from a medical professional, or an educational psychologists report. If don’t have this, getting an assessment will have to be your first step. You can ask your college or school to help you get an assessment, or you can make an appointment with a doctor at your surgery. Aside from this, you need to be enrolled for either:

  1. a full time HE course lasting at least a year (including long-distance)
  2. a part time course lasting at least a year that doesn’t take more than twice as long to complete as its full time equivalent.

NB: Post grad students receiving certain awards or bursaries are not eligible. See here for more info. NHS bursary students see here

What sort of help can I get through DSA?

You can use DSAs towards specialist equipment (eg computers, dictaphones, special software..) a non-medical helper (note-taker or reader), extra travelling costs and any other costs incurred by your disability while studying. After you have applied you will be required to have a Needs Assessment in which a professional will assess your particular requirements and help to identify what support to give.

To give you an idea, full time students can receive up to £5161 towards specialist equipment for the entire course, £20,520 a year towards a non-medical helper and £1724 a year as a general disabled student’s allowance. (See above link for more info)

How do I apply for it?

You will need to fill out the DSA1 form. Usually you will be sent this after checking a box indicating your intention of applying for DSA when applying for your student grant and/or loan. Alternatively you can download the form from the site linked when it is released in a few weeks time. The application gets sent to your Funding Body, same as your student grant and loan application.

Needs Assessment

If your application is approved, your LEA will write to you and ask you to have a Needs Assessment at an approved Access Centre. The LEA should have a list of these centres. The assessment will ascertain your needs and determine what support, resources and equipment will be appropriate for you.

For further information on Needs Assessments see here

Here is a list of Assessment Centres.


  • If you’ve already started University and failed to apply for DSA to start with, its not too late. If you can provide evidence, you can apply for DSA at any point in your course through the first link.
  • Follow the first link and download the ‘Bridging the Gap’ pdf for much more detailed information on available support.

Also See

This guide was originally put together by Craghyrax in this thread.