Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) Guide


The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a scheme developed by the government of the United Kingdom to provide assistance to students with disabilities. It covers any additional costs or expenses that can be demonstrated to occur as a result of any physical or learning disability.

The DSA differs from traditional student loans as they do not have to be repaid, and the amount dispensed by the government typically isn’t dependent on income but on the student’s needs. You are also eligible for the DSA regardless of if you have previously completed a course in a higher education institution.

It is available to both part-time and full-time students, as well as students undergoing postgraduate, distance learning and Open University training.

If you’re interested in getting the DSA, it is advisable to apply as early as you can in order to have your application processed before you start your course. It is also possible to apply for the DSA without  confirmation acceptance in a university, or at any point during your training.

Who is eligible for the DSA?

“You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.”

To apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), you have to be a student resident in the United Kingdom with evidence demonstrating that you have a:

  1. Long term illness or health condition. e.g Cancer, HIV, Diabetes
  2. Specific learning difficulty (SpLD) or Autistic Spectrum Disorder. e.g. Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Asperger’s Syndrome
  3. Mental health condition. e.g. Depression, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Anxiety
  4. Physical or sensory impairment. e.g. a wheelchair user, a blind person, a hearing-impaired person

You’ll need a doctor’s note or any other proof demonstrating that you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, or in the case of a SpLD, you will need a diagnostic report from a specialist practitioner.

What is the application procedure for the disabled students’ allowance?

  1. First, you’ll need to get evidence of your condition in the form of a diagnostic assessment from a physician.
  2. Then, you’ll need to obtain and complete your DSA application and attach a photocopy of the evidence obtained to your funding body
  3. You’ll receive a letter from the funding body if you meet the eligibility criteria. This letter would advise you to attend a study needs assessment at a centre.
  4. Here your specific needs will be assessed, and you’ll need to fill a needs assessment report. 
  5. Your funding body will then go through your needs assessment report, then send you an entitlement letter containing information about the agreed support and how it’s to be executed..

How to apply for the DSA?

Your method of application for the DSA would depend on your specific location in the United Kingdom:

  1. If you’re resident in England, you’ll need to get in contact with Student Finance England. Apply here. On the other hand, if your course of study is being funded by the NHS, then you should make your application at the NHS Student Bursaries office here.
  2. If you’re resident in Northern Ireland, you can make an enquiry about the application process here.
  3. If you’re resident in Scotland, your application will be handled by Students Awards Agency for Scotland. You can make enquiries here.
  4. For Welsh students, your funding will come from Student Finance Wales, and you can make enquiries here.

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