Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs)
The Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) can help with additional costs disabled students incur in attending their course as a direct result of a disability. You can apply for DSA from your funding body and your application for DSA must be supported by appropriate medical evidence [see below].
The video clip below (1½ minutes) produced by Student Finance England provides a brief overview of DSAs.
When you apply for DSA to your funding body, (e.g. Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, the NHS etc.) you will need to provide appropriate supporting evidence of your disability. There are different options, depending on your particular circumstances:
You will need a letter from your doctor, hospital consultant, psychiatrist, or similar health professional if you have:
- a physical disability
- a medical condition
- a mental-health condition
- a sensory impairment
To help you explain to your doctor or other health professional the type of the evidence that is required by your funding body, you may download the evidence guidance (PDF 65KB) and show it to them at your next appointment.
A Diagnostic Assessment undertaken by an Education Psychologist or similar professional and conducted post-16 years should be acceptable evidence for a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is available via different funding bodies depending on your location and course. The funding bodies are as follows:
- Student Finance England
- Student Finance Wales
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
- SAAS – Student Awards Agency for Scotland
- NHS Student Bursaries
The DSA application process can take up to 14 weeks, so it’s best to apply as soon as you can. First, complete your funding body’s application form – often this can be done online. If you are eligible, your funding body will send you an eligibility letter. Contact ASSIST if you need help completing the form.
Booking a DSA needs assessment
After a few weeks, if you are eligible, you will receive a DSA-1 Eligibility letter from your funding body and you will then need to book a DSA needs assessment. You can do so at the Needs Assessment Centre (NAC) located at Needs Assessment Centre in the Development Hub on Cliftonville Road. Alternatively, you may search for a needs assessment centre in your area.
Organising your support
If recommendations made in your Needs Assessment Report are approved, your funding body will send you a DSA-2 Entitlement letter. Follow the instructions on the letter; if you have difficulties doing this, contact ASSIST. Detailed information including eligibility and the application process is fully explained online on Your DSA website.
How can DSAs help?
You can get help with the costs of:
- specialist equipment, like computer software
- non-medical helpers, like a mentor or study skills tutor
- extra travel costs arising because of your disability