Help if you're a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability

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Disabled Students' Allowance

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is support to cover the study-related costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.

This can be on its own or in addition to any student finance you get.

The type of support and how much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income.

You do not need to pay back DSA.

What you’ll get

2021 to 2022 academic year

Undergraduate and postgraduate students can get up to £25,000 a year for support.

2020 to 2021 academic year

Specialist equipment allowance Non-medical helper allowance General allowance
Full-time undergraduate students Up to £5,849 for the whole course Up to £23,258 a year Up to £1,954 a year
Part-time undergraduate students Up to £5,849 for the whole course Up to £17,443 a year Up to £1,465 a year

Postgraduates can get support of up to £20,580 a year.

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

What DSA can pay for

You can get help with the costs of:

  • specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
  • non-medical helpers, for example a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter or specialist note taker
  • extra travel to attend your course or placement because of your disability
  • other disability-related study support, for example having to print additional copies of documents for proof-reading

DSA does not cover disability-related costs you’d have if you were not attending a course, or costs that any student might have.

Buying a new computer

You may get a new computer if you’re assessed as needing one because:

  • you do not already have one
  • your current one does not meet your study needs

When buying a new computer, you’ll need to pay the first £200.

The DSA team will send you more information about this after your needs assessment.

Your ‘needs assessment’

Once your eligibility for DSA 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. Do not book this until Student Finance England asks you to.

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

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

Do not buy any equipment until you’ve been assessed - you will not be reimbursed for it.

How DSA is paid

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

You’ll find out how your support will be paid to you after your needs assessment.

  1. Step 1 Check if you're eligible

  2. Step 2 Find out how much loan you could get

    Find out the maximum tuition fee and maintenance loan you could get if you're a:

    How much maintenance loan you get depends on where you'll study and your household income.

    1. Use the student finance calculator to estimate your maintenance loan

    You'll have to pay back any loan you get.

    1. Find out how much you'll repay
    2. Find out when you'll start repaying
  3. and Check if you can get extra help

  4. Step 3 Prepare your application

  5. Step 4 Apply

    1. Apply online

    You'll need to create a student finance account if you're a new student or sign into an existing account if you're a returning student.

    It can take up to 6 weeks to process your application. You might have to provide extra evidence.

  6. Step 5 Update your details if your circumstances change

    You must update your application if your circumstances change. For example if you:

    • change your course through clearing
    • change where you're going to live - for example with your parents instead of halls
    1. Find out how to update your application
  7. Step 6 Make sure you can be paid

    After you register at your university or college you'll usually get your maintenance loan paid directly into your bank account at the start of each term.

    Use your student finance account to:

    • update your bank details - for example if you open a student account
    • check how much you'll be paid
    • check when you'll be paid
    1. Sign in to your student finance account
  8. Step 7 Check what to do while you're studying

    You'll need to reapply for student finance for each year of your course.

    You must keep your details up to date throughout your course because some changes can affect your loan payments, for example if your household income or bank details change.

    1. Check how to update your details
    2. Find out what to do if you suspend or leave your course
  9. Step 8 Repay your loan