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

What you'll get

You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.

You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You will not need to repay DSAs.

If you’re a part-time student your ‘course intensity’ can affect how much you get.

How much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income.

2018 to 2019 academic year

Type of student Specialist equipment allowance Non-medical helper allowance General allowance
Full-time Up to £5,529 for the whole course Up to £21,987 a year Up to £1,847 a year
Part-time Up to £5,529 for the whole course Up to £16,489 a year Up to £1,385 a year

Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,993 a year.

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

2017 to 2018 academic year

Type of student Specialist equipment allowance Non-medical helper allowance General allowance
Full-time Up to £5,358 for the whole course Up to £21,305 a year Up to £1,790 a year
Part-time Up to £5,358 for the whole course Up to £15,978 a year Up to £1,342 a year

Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,652 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, for example 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 do not already have one, or your current one does not meet your study needs. 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 do not cover disability-related costs you’d have if you were not 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. Do not 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.

Do not buy any equipment until you’ve been assessed - you will not 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.

  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