What are DSAs and who is eligible?

Disabled Students' Allowances (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
  • non-medical helper support, such as 1-1 study tuition or specialist mentoring
  • extra travel costs
  • the cost of extra photocopying or printing

Use our HE Support Checker to see whether you may be eligible for DSA or other support

    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. Our Inclusive fee is deducted from your general allowance and our support will cover you for the duration of your course.

    Who is eligible for DSAs?

    Any UK student applying to or attending university with a disability or Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) could be eligible. Examples include:

    • Dyslexia/Dyspraxia
    • Sensory Impairments
    • Asperger's syndrome
    • Physical disabilities
    • Chronic health conditions, such as Diabetes and Asthma
    • Mental health conditions, such as Anxiety and Depression

    Where does a DSA Needs Assessment fit into the process?

    AbilityNet can provide free advice and support in various ways but we also provide personalised assessments for any student who is eligible for DSA.

    Once your funding body has sent you correspondence confirming you are eligible for DSA they will ask you to book a needs assessment. This a confidential session conducted by a professional member of AbilityNet staff to identify all of your needs in relation to your course. This can include recommending technology, learning strategies and other support.

    The recommendations are produced in the form of a report which is then sent off by the Needs Assessment Centre to your funding body.

    More about the Assessment

    The DSA Needs Assessment usually lasts no more than two hours. You meet a specialist DSA Needs Assessor in a private room. They will ask about your disability and the impact of this disability on your educational experience. They will then go on to discuss and demonstrate a range of specialist equipment, software, as well as discuss appropriate support and strategies.

    What happens after the DSA Needs Assessment?

    The Assessor will write a report summarising your needs and the recommended solutions within 10 working days of the date of your assessment. A copy of this report will be sent to you and your funding body, for their approval. A further copy is sent to your Disability Advisor at your University (only if consent was given). Upon receiving a copy of your funding body notification letter of the provisions you are being funded, please contact the suppliers on the letter so that you are able to get all the support in place.

    How can AbilityNet help?

    DSA Needs Assessments

    Once it is decided that you are eligible for DSA you will need to have a formal assessment of your needs. AbilityNet has DSA Assessment Centres across the UK and you can choose the centre nearest your home or your place of study.

    Free helpline for disabled people: 0800 296 545

    Our free helpline helps any disabled person who wants advice about technology. You don't need to be a student and you don't need to have a DSA grant - just give us a call and we will do what we can to solve your questions about hardware, software or specialist equipment.

    Free factsheets

    We have a library of free factsheets about a range of topics that can help you make the most of technology. Popular ones include Dyslexia and Computers and Autism and Computers, but we also cover things like Voice Recognition and Tablet Computers.

    We also publish blog posts and other information which may be helpful to students.

    Useful links

    For more information and guidance on the DSA and the application process are linked below:

    Join our Claim it DSA campaign

    Our DSA Claim It! Campaign encourages any student in higher education to look at whether they are eligible for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs).

    Read more

    For a summary of the DSA Needs Assessment processes download the document below.

    Default content