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Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs)

What is 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.

Medical evidence

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:

Option 1

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.

Option 2

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.

Funding Bodies

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is available via different funding bodies depending on your location and course. The funding bodies are as follows:

Application

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. To find your nearest DSA Needs Assessment Centre please visit the GOV.UK website.

A DSA Needs Assessment is a one-to-one confidential discussion between the you and a trained assessor to identify your learning support needs. The assessor then writes a report that makes recommendations to your funding body and higher education institution as to how these needs should be met.

During the assessment, the assessor will demonstrate and allow you to evaluate software, specialist equipment and technology to determine the best possible solutions to help overcome any difficulties you may experience. The assessor may also discuss and recommend other types of support such as confidential mentoring, specialist tutoring to assist with assignments and assistive technology training.

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

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