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Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) - A Guide

If you are a higher education student with a disability living in England, you
can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

The disability can include a:

  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty, eg dyslexia

Introduction

To receive the allowance you must meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010.

The support you get depends on your individual needs and not on income.

What you'll get

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are paid on top of your other student finance. They help you pay the extra costs you may have because of your disability. They don’t have to be repaid.

How much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income. If you’re a part-time student your ‘course intensity’ can affect how much you get.



2015 to 2016 academic year

Type of student - Specialist equipment allowance

Non-medical helper allowance

General allowance

Full-time - Up to £5,212 for the whole course Up to £20,725 a year Up to £1,741 a year
Part-time - Up to £5,212 for the whole course Up to £15,543 a year Up to £1,305 a year

Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,362 a year.

These figures are the maximum amounts - most students get less.

2016 to 2017 academic year

Type of student - Specialist equipment allowance

Non-medical helper allowance

General allowance

Full-time - Up to £5,212 for the whole course Up to £20,725 a year Up to £1,741 a year
Part-time - Up to £5,212 for the whole course Up to £15,543 a year Up to £1,305 a year


Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,362 a year.

These figures are the maximum amounts - most students get less.

What DSAs can pay for

You can get help with the costs of:

  • specialist equipment, eg a computer if you need one because of your disability
  • non-medical helpers
  • extra travel because of your disability
  • other disability-related costs of studying

You may get a new computer if you don’t already have one, or your current one doesn’t meet the required specification. More information will be provided to you if you’re assessed as needing a new computer.

You’ll need to pay the first £200, which is the minimum cost that any student is likely to incur when buying a computer.

DSAs don’t cover disability-related costs you’d have if you weren’t attending a course, or costs that any student might have.

Your ‘needs assessment’

Once your eligibility for DSAs is confirmed, Student Finance England may ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need.

This is known as a needs assessment. Don’t book this until Student Finance England asks you to.

The assessment is paid for through any DSAs entitlement you may have.

After the assessment, you’ll get a report listing equipment and other support you can get for your course.

Don’t buy any equipment until you’ve been assessed - you won’t be reimbursed for it.

How DSAs are paid

Money is paid either into your bank account or directly to the organisation providing the service or equipment.

Eligibility

You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) if you have a disability, eg:

  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty like dyslexia or dyspraxia

You must also:

  • be an undergraduate or postgraduate student (including Open University or distance learning)
  • have a condition that affects your ability to study
  • qualify for student finance from Student Finance England
  • be studying on a course that lasts at least a year

Who isn’t eligible

You can’t get DSAs from Student Finance England if you’re:

  • an EU student
  • eligible for an NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance (this is a separate scheme)
  • getting equivalent support from another funding source, eg from your university or a social work bursary



Proving you’re eligible

You won’t automatically get DSAs - you need proof of your eligibility.


Condition

Proof

Disabilities or long-term health condition Report or letter from your doctor or consultant
Mental-health condition Report or letter from your doctor or consultant
Specific learning difficulty like dyslexia A ‘diagnostic assessment’ from a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher - you’ll need to get reassessed if you had this done when you were under 16

You could get extra help to pay for a new diagnostic assessment.

Your course

Your course must be in the UK and one of the following:

  • a first degree, eg BA, BSc or BEd
  • a Foundation Degree
  • a Certificate of Higher Education
  • a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
  • a postgraduate course
  • Initial Teacher Training

Check with your university or college that your course is recognised.

Part-time course intensity

For part-time students, your course intensity can affect how much you get.

‘Course intensity’ means how long your course takes to complete each year compared to an equivalent full-time course. You can check course intensity with your university or college.

The rules are different depending on when your course begins.

Part-time courses starting before 1 September 2012

Your course must not last more than twice as long as the equivalent full-time course.

Part-time courses starting from 1 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.



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