Know your entitlement: Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

The Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) is a UK government grant that provides financial support for qualifying undergraduate and postgraduate students who have a disability.  Students with a wide range of disabilities and conditions may be eligible for support under the scheme. The DSA is based on your individual needs and not on your household income and the grant does not have to be paid back. The requirements specify that your disability must impact your ability to study and you must qualify for funding from Student Finance England. Grants are available for both full and part-time students. However, you must be enrolled on a program that lasts at least one year.

The majority of those who apply for the DSA have Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD).  These include, but are not limited to, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. For those with Specific Learning Difficulties, a diagnostic assessment performed after the age of 16 will be needed as proof that you have a learning difficulty. At the University of Oxford, this assessment should be conducted within three years of the course start date for undergraduates and within five years for postgraduates. Additionally, the assessment must be performed by a psychologist or qualified specialist teacher. If you need a formal diagnostic assessment for a learning difficulty, contact the Disability Advisory service at your university. If you are a student at the University of Oxford, then more information about Needs Assessments can be found at The Oxford University Assessment Centre.  Students with other types of disabilities and conditions will need to prove eligibility by securing a letter from a GP or Consultant with details about the condition, any treatment being given and the accommodations you need for your studies.

DSAs may be used for a variety of tools to support your learning. For example, funds can be used to supplement the cost of a computer if it is determined that one is needed. It may also cover specialist equipment like assistive technologies and other resources that are needed as accommodations for your studies. Funding may also cover the cost for non-medical assistance. This may include using the services of a note taker, reader, proofreader, transcriber, or study skills coach. You and your Needs Assessor will discuss the options best suited for you. The Assessor will also assist you with ordering the equipment you need.

For more information and to apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance, download the form on the Disabled Students’ Allowances page at GOV.UK. If you are a student at the University of Oxford and would like more information, follow the link to their Disability Advisory Service for assistance. Additionally, the Oxford University Disability site provides a wealth of information and resources including a video titled Dyslexia Unbound, which provides insight into the experiences of three Oxford students with dyslexia.  Also, the Oxford University Disability Lecture Series may be of interest.

The Disabled Students Allowances Quality Assurance (DSA-QAG) web site will also be able to provide an up-to-date and detailed process of claiming the allowance. It is worth noting that the full DSA process can take up to 14 weeks – from your initial application to delivery of equipment. Our advice is to apply as soon as possible. Further information on the DSA process can be found online, DSA Timescales.