Financial support

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

Did you know that if you have a disability, medical condition, Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) or mental health condition, you may be eligible for Disabled Students' Allowance? 

Many students are unaware that this support is available to them, think that their condition doesn't qualify them for support, or don't consider themselves to have a disability and so don't realise they are eligible to apply. If you're unsure of whether or not you are eligible for DSA, you can contact us for advice by email:

  • If your application is primarily around a disability, Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) or medical condition: Email the Disability Advice and Support Team at
  • If your application is primarily around a mental health condition: Email the Wellbeing Team at

Alternatively, you can book book a SPA appointment to discuss this and other available options with a member of the team.


  1. What is Disabled Students' Allowance?

    Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are government support packages. They are available to UK students who meet the criteria, and are designed to pay for the extra costs you might encounter as a result of a disability, medical condition, Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) or mental health condition which impacts on your studies.

    Funding can help pay for study related support, including specialist equipment and human support, but it won't pay for:

    • Costs a student would have whether or not they were at university
    • Non-disability related costs incurred by all students on a particular course

    Examples of support you could access through DSA include:

    • Specialised computer equipment and software
    • Support such as a BSL interpreter, scribe or mental health mentor

    DSAs are not:

    • A loan that has to be repaid after graduation
    • Classed as income which affects state benefits

  2. Who is eligible for DSA?

    You are eligible to apply for DSA if you have any disability, medical condition, Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) or mental health condition.

    We know that many students who are eligible for DSA support don't apply because they aren't aware that, as well as supporting students with a physical disability, DSA is also there to support students with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. If you have a mental health condition, like anxiety or depression, you should apply for DSA.

  3. DSA and mental health conditions

    Can I apply for DSA with a mental health condition?

    Yes, you can.

    Many students who have a mental health condition don't apply for DSA as they are unsure of whether it's "severe enough" to be eligible.

    It can help to think about how your mental health affects you, and how long this has lasted. For example, you might have noticed your mental health has made it difficult to concentrate on academic work; or you might have found it has caused you to struggle to attend classes or do things you enjoy. If poor mental health has affected you in ways like this, and the effects seem likely to last for a year or more, you could be eligible to apply for DSA.

    If you're still unsure about whether or not to apply, we encourage you to make a SPA Appointment to talk it through with a team member.

    I don't have a formal diagnosis, or I don't have evidence to prove my condition - what should I do?

    A good first step would be to make an appointment with your GP to talk about your mental health and let them know you are considering applying for DSA. Your GP may already feel they that have enough information to provide evidence for an application, or they may want to find out a bit more about your circumstances from you first.

    We know it can be difficult to talk about mental health; the Wellbeing team can support you with this and help you prepare for your appointment.

    The Mental Health Foundation has some advice on how to talk to your GP about mental health on their website; you can also find advice and a checklist builder to help you prepare for your appointment at Doc Ready.

  4. How to apply for DSA

    The process of applying for DSA can be long – it can take up to 12 weeks from the time of your application to get the support in place. Making the application shouldn't be too complicated, however, and the Wellbeing team can support you with it.

    There are two things you need to do to apply for DSA.

    1. You need to complete a short form giving some basic information about yourself
    2. You need to provide a copy of medical evidence of your condition

    Proof of your disability or medical condition

    In most cases, you will need to provide a letter from a medical professional which details your condition and how this affects you. If you aren't sure if you have the right evidence, contact the Wellbeing team for advice.

    The amount of DSA available and the method of application vary depending on your course being studied.

    Proof of your specific learning difference

    There are certain requirements regarding SpLD diagnostic reports that need to be met to qualify for DSA. For details of the requirements, download our guide.

    Your study needs assessment

    The study needs assessment is an important part of the DSA application process, during which your DSA support is determined. It's not a "test" of your disability; it is only intended to identify what support options are best for you. The outcome could include recommendations for:

    • Academic human support, e.g., a note taker for teaching sessions
    • Specialist computer equipment or software, e.g., a computer with assistive software; a recording device for teaching sessions
    • Contributions towards travel costs for students who are unable to use standard public transport due to the effects of their disability
    • Other support, e.g., a photocopying allowance

    You must have written permission from your funding provider to have a study needs assessment.

  5. After your DSA is approved

    You must keep all documents and correspondence relating to your DSA application as it is likely that you will need to use the support every year of your course.