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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) provide extra financial help for disabled students. You may get DSAs if you have a disability, ongoing health condition, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty like dyslexia. Find out what’s available and how to apply.

DSAs – the basics

DSAs are grants to help meet the extra course costs students face because of a disability. For example, DSAs can help pay for:

  • specialist equipment you need for studying like computer software
  • non-medical helpers, such as a note-taker or reader
  • extra travel costs you have to pay because of your disability
  • other costs such as photocopying or printer cartridges

DSAs are paid on top of the standard student finance package, or on their own. You don’t have to pay DSAs back and they’re not counted as income when working out whether you get benefits or Tax Credits.

For more detail about how much you can get, if you qualify and how to apply download the guide ‘Bridging the gap’.

How much can you get?

The amount you get depends on your specific needs, not your household income. The figures in the table are the maximum amounts available. Any money for equipment and support is paid directly to the supplier. If you claim back money for any additional expenses, this is paid directly into your account.

Type of student Specialist equipment Non-medical helper General
Full-time up to £5,161 for whole course up to £20,520 a year up to £1,724 a year
Part-time up to £5,161 for whole course up to £15,390 a year up to £1,293 a year
Post-graduate postgraduates are paid a single allowance, including travel costs – up to £10,260 a year

The amount part-time students get is affected by their ‘course intensity’ – the length of the course each year compared to a full-time course.

You can also claim additional travel costs you pay because of your disability.

Who can get DSAs

You can apply for DSAs if:

  • your condition affects your ability to study
  • you qualify for student finance – see ‘Who qualifies for student finance’
  • you’re an undergraduate or postgraduate (including Open University or distance learning students)
  • your course lasts at least one year

Part-time courses must take:

  • no more than twice as long to complete as the full-time equivalent (for students starting before 1 September 2023)
  • no more than four times as long to complete as the full-time equivalent (for students starting courses from 1 September 2023

Who can't get DSAs

You can’t get DSAs if you’re:

  • an EU student
  • eligible for an NHS bursary
  • getting equivalent support from another funding source – for example, from your university or a social work bursary

If you’re not eligible, see the section ‘Help and Advice’ for other sources of funding.

How to apply for DSAs

The application process can take up to four months to complete. If you’re an Open University (OU) student, you should apply directly to the OU.

Step 1 – Tell Student Finance England about your disability

Complete one of these forms:

  • DSA1 ‘short’ – if you’re also applying for DSAs and other student finance
  • DSA1 ‘full’ – if you’re only applying for DSAs or you’re a part-time, postgraduate or distance learning student

For large print, Braille or audio versions contact Student Finance England:


Telephone: 0141 243 3686

Include your name, address, customer reference number and the format you need in the email.

Only send photocopies, not originals, of any documents

Proof of your disability or condition

Send proof of your disability or condition with your application – for example, a letter from your doctor or specialist.

It’s your responsibility to pay for any medical evidence but you may be able to get financial help from the Access to Learning Fund to cover these costs.

If you have a specific learning difficulty (like dyslexia), the proof you need is known as a ‘post 16 diagnostic report’. You need to get this report from one of the following:

  • a chartered or practitioner psychologist
  • a specialist teacher holding a current Assessment Practising Certificate

Step 2 – Find out what equipment and support you need

If you are eligible for DSAs, Student Finance England will write to you, asking you to arrange a Needs Assessment for equipment and support.

After you attend a Needs Assessment you will receive a report, listing equipment and other support you may need for your course. Student Finance England will also get a copy of this report.

Step 3 – Get your equipment and support

Once Student Finance England have received your Needs Assessment Report, they will send you an agreement letter, listing the equipment and other support your DSAs will cover. There will also be instructions about how to order your equipment or arrange other support.

If you have any additional costs (apart from equipment and support), you can claim these back. You’ll have to fill in the DSA expenses claim form and send it to Student Finance England along with your receipts.

The DSA expenses claim form for 2012/13 will be available in October 2012.

DSA appeals

If your application is turned down you can ask for an explanation and a review of your case. Contact Student Finance England for more detail.

If your circumstances change

Contact Student Finance England if your circumstances change. For example:

  • if your condition gets worse you may get extra help
  • if you change course you may still get DSAs

Help and advice

If you’re eligible for an NHS bursary, you can apply for equivalent DSA support from the NHS.

For advice about finance for disabled students, contact the disability adviser at your university or college or speak to Student Finance England.

The Disability Alliance has a guide for disabled students who are thinking about going into higher education. To order a copy:


Telephone: 0800 328 5050

Additional links

Get careers and skills advice

Get careers advice online or speak with a National Careers Service adviser by calling: 0800 100 900

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