Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) provide extra financial help if you want to study a higher education course and have a disability, ongoing health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty like dyslexia.
DSAs are grants to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, ongoing health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. They help disabled people to study in higher education on an equal basis with other students.
They are paid on top of the standard student finance package and don't have to be paid back.
The amount you get depends on the type of extra help you need - not on your household income.
You can apply if you are doing an undergraduate or postgraduate course (including a distance-learning course) that is:
To apply for DSAs, both you and your course must meet certain conditions. Check these before you apply.
If you are eligible for a bursary from the NHS, you won't qualify for DSAs from Student Finance England or your local authority. But you can apply for equivalent help through the NHS bursary scheme.
You also won't qualify for DSAs from Student Finance England or your local authority if you're a postgraduate student getting:
Contact your funding provider for advice on any extra support you may be entitled to because of your disability or condition.
This is based on your individual needs, but there are maximum amounts for the different allowances.
Apply for DSAs as early as possible
Don't wait until you've been accepted on a course
There are two ways to apply for DSAs:
Whichever route applies to you, apply as early as possible. Don't wait until you've been offered a place at university.
Make sure you send the form to the right address. Depending on your circumstances, this could be to Student Finance England, your local authority or the Open University (OU).
See 'Disabled Students' Allowances: application forms' to find out more.
You'll need to supply evidence with your application of your disability or condition.
For example, if you have a disability or ongoing health condition it may be a letter from your doctor or specialist.
If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, you'll need to provide a 'diagnostic assessment' from a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher. If you've had a diagnostic assessment in the past when you were under age 16, it may need updating.
You'll have to pay for any tests to establish whether you qualify for DSAs. If you need a test but cannot afford to pay for it, you may be able to get financial help through your university's or college's Access to Learning Fund.
Student Finance England (or your local authority or the OU) will consider your application and let you know whether you qualify for DSAs.
If you qualify for DSAs, you'll be asked to attend an 'assessment centre' to work out what help you'll need. The centre will then write a report setting out all the help they think you need and will send this to Student Finance England (or your local authority or the OU). The centre will also send a copy to you.
If Student Finance England (your local authority or the OU) agree the report, they'll tell you in writing how to arrange getting your help.
If you need further advice, contact the disability adviser at your university or college.
You can get more information about DSAs from the booklet, 'Bridging the gap: a guide to Disabled Students' Allowances in higher education'.
See 'Student finance' for information about other help for higher education students, including student loans, grants and bursaries.
If you're a postgraduate student, see 'Funding postgraduate study'.