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How to apply for the Disabled Students' Allowance

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To access the DSA you need to apply to your funding body. This will be the same organisation from which you are receiving your normal student funding.

For applications to Student Finance England/Wales/Northern Ireland or Student Awards Agency for Scotland visit the Gov.uk website.

Contact your Disability Officer for applications to other funding bodies including research councils. Do not send your original medical evidence to the funding body only a copy is required.

Once your funding body approves your application for the DSA they will ask you to attend a study needs assessment. You should contact us at this point to organise an appointment to meet with one of our assessors in order to discuss your needs and to identify strategies that will assist you in overcoming your difficulties.

Am I eligible to apply?

You can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) if you have a:

  • disability or 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 funding via your funding authority (Student Finance, Research Council, etc.)
  • be studying on a course that lasts at least a year.

You are not eligible to apply for the DSA if:

  • the course you are/will be studying is less than one year in duration
  • your condition is short-term, for example a broken leg
  • you are receiving equivalent support from another source; e.g. your university, charity, etc.
Read more about am i eligible to apply?.

What medical evidence do I need?

The type of medical evidence will depend on your disability/study need.

Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) for example dyslexia, dyspraxia or dyscalculia

You will need to provide an assessment report from an educational psychologist or specialist teacher qualified to diagnose SpLDs. Guidance on what qualifications are required can be found in section 10.1 of the 2019/20 DSA Guidance (New Students) (p69). A copy of this can be found at practitioners.slc.co.uk/policy
If you do not already have an eligible diagnosis, your current college may have a specialist teacher who is able to undertake this for you. If not, you can find a list of educational psychologists at bps.org.uk

Visual Stress / Meyers Irlen Syndrome / Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome

As of the 1st November 2018, Student Finance England no longer recognises these conditions as attracting funding via the DSA. The cost of Colorimetry testing, tinting of lenses or overlays is no longer fundable via the DSA in England. Students receiving funding via other funding bodies may still receive funding at this time. If you need a diagnosis you can find a list of Optometrists at: ceriumvistech.com/how-to-get-assessed/find-your-local-specialist/

Asperger Syndrome / Autistic Spectrum Disorder

The report that originally diagnosed the condition and any update assessments undertaken since the original diagnosis.

Mental health condition

You will need to get your GP to complete the mental health evidence form available here.

Physical, medical or sensory disability

You will need to provide a letter from your GP/consultant. The letter should state the following:

  • what your disabilities are
  • what is the extent of the disability (for example, the extent of vision/hearing loss, are you still under treatment, what is the prognosis)
  • how your disability might affect your studies with specific emphasis on mobility, concentration, and dexterity.

When can I apply for the DSA?

If you are a prospective student you should apply for the DSA as soon as possible after applying for a place at university. Do not wait until after your exams or receiving your results. The DSA application process is lengthy and the sooner you apply the more likely the support you need can be put in place in time for you to start your course.

If you are already at university you should apply immediately. You can apply for the DSA at any time during your course but it is better not to wait until you are behind in your work or about to fail as it may be too late to get the support you need in place in time to make a difference. If you are unsure about whether to apply for the DSA, speak to your university's disability team. Even if you are not eligible for the DSA they may be able to provide guidance/assistance to help you.

If you are within the last 6 months of completing your course you can still apply for the DSA. Human support can be provided, however, it is unlikely you will receive any equipment.

Do I have to disclose my disability to my institution?

No. There is no legal requirement for you to notify your institution of your disability/ies, unless your chosen course has specific fitness to study/practice requirements that you must meet in order to be accepted on the course.

However, it is highly recommended that you do disclose your disability/ies to the disability team at your institution, as they will be able to help you with the DSA process and may be able to put some support in place while you are going through the application process. The disability team cannot inform your tutors of your disclosure without your permission.

However, if you choose not to disclose your disability/ies to your institution it will limit the support they can provide to you and the on-campus support we can recommend through the DSA.

Do I have to have a study needs assessment?

Yes.

The study needs assessment is very important, as it is during this meeting that you will discuss what support might be funded through the DSA. Your funding body will not agree to any support unless it has been recommended by a study needs assessor.