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Disabled Students' Allowances

About Disabled Students' Allowances

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are non means-tested allowances that disabled students who are already on, or have applied to study, a higher education course can apply for. Please see the DSA information sheet for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for DSAs.

The allowance covers any additional study-related costs that students will incur because of their disability. DSAs are paid on top of the standard student finance package but are not measured against your income and do not need to be repaid. DSAs are available to both new and existing students both full and part time.

The following short film from Student Finance England provides a helpful overview of Disabled Students' Allowances.

Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs), including how to apply and support available.

How do I apply for DSAs?

You will need to apply for DSAs through the funding body that is providing your tuition fees, loan or bursary. Your funding body depends on when you joined your course and what course you are studying but for the majority of students this is either Student Finance England or the NHS in the case of students undertaking healthcare courses.

If you are unsure about your funding body please contact Disability Service for further advice.

For helpful tips and advice on applying for DSAs, watch Student Finance England's film on applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances.

What medical evidence is required to apply for DSAs?

For any application for DSAs you will need to supply medical evidence with your application form, as this is part of the eligibility criteria. Your medical evidence will need to confirm:
  • the name and nature of your disability
  • the length of time you have had your disability/how long you are likely to have it
  • the impact on your day-to-day life and study.

Read's medical evidence requirements for further information. Their website also has a link to the disability evidence form that a doctor or medical professional can complete.

If you have a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) you will need to provide a full diagnostic assessment carried out after you were 16 years of age. This needs to have been completed by an educational psychologist or another suitably qualified individual. Visit the PATOSS website for more information about this.

If you need an updated report please see our pages about recognising dyslexia. For other disabilities or medical conditions you normally will need to provide an up-to-date letter or report from your GP, consultant or suitably qualified specialist.

To find out more about medical evidence, view our information on disability disclosure and accessing support.

The Study Needs Assessment

When your funding body confirms that you are eligible for DSAs you will be asked to attend a study needs assessment at an accredited assessment centre such as Access West of England.

The Study Needs Assessment normally takes about two hours and is a confidential but informal discussion about your needs in relation to your chosen course.

The assessment will explore a range of study strategies from support workers and equipment to assistance with travel and non-core text book allowances. Your assessor will give you the opportunity to try out any specialist equipment or software that may be appropriate to your needs.


If your DSA study needs assessment recommends any support (eg note-taking support, mentoring or tuition) this can normally be arranged through the Disability Service at your university.

Please see our information on how to access support at UWE Bristol. You can also view more information about the types of support available.

What happens if I am not eligible for DSAs?

Some students will not be eligible for DSAs.

The most common groups include EU and international students and those studying short courses. If you do not think you will qualify for funding but do need support you should contact your university to discuss this further. Students studying at UWE Bristol should read our information on how to access support.

Will UWE Bristol chase my DSA application for me?

You should chase up your DSA application with your funding body if you haven’t heard within four weeks of applying.  We do not routinely or automatically chase up student DSA applications, even if we are aware that you have applied.  However if you are experiencing difficulty or confusion with your funding body, we can help you.

Further information

More detailed information about DSAs can be found on the YourDSA web pages or the GOV.UK website.

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