What support is available for students with a learning difficulty, mental health condition or disability?
Information on Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)
As we look ahead to the 23/24 academic year this autumn, we recently launched the student finance application service for full-time undergraduate students in England. Students can apply for help with their course costs through a Maintenance Loan and to cover their fees with a Tuition Fee Loan.
However, depending on a student’s circumstances, there are other types of support available as well. This includes the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), which is available for students to fund extra support they may need if they are living with a disability, learning difficulty or mental health condition, including:
- specific learning difficulty
- mental health condition
- physical disability
- sensory disability
- long-term health condition
We understand that personal circumstances and the support required is very individual to that student and will vary from person to person. However, in the widest terms, DSA support covers:
- Specialist equipment – for example if a student needs a computer to run specialist software or braille display.
- Non-medical helpers – for example, if a British Sign Language interpreter is required to attend lectures.
- Travel – for example, if a taxi is needed to attend university, rather than using public transport.
- A range of general costs may also be considered, related to a student’s disability.
DSA doesn’t depend on household income and doesn’t need to be repaid.
The application process:
Students can apply for DSA online if they are a full-time student in England and are applying for other support from Student Finance England at www.gov.uk/studentfinance
Where a student is not applying for any other finance from Student Finance England, they can download an application form at www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms
Information on DSA for part time courses can be found here: Help if you’re a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability: Eligibility - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and for post graduate courses, please visit Help if you’re a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability: Disabled Students’ Allowance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
As part of the application process students will be required to provide evidence of their disability. For advice on what may be required www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/eligibility
|Disabilities or long-term health condition||A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant - you can also fill in the disability evidence form|
|Mental health condition||A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant - you can also fill in the disability evidence form|
|Specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia||A copy of a ‘diagnostic assessment’ from a practitioner psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher|
Even if a student is not certain which course or institution they may attend in the autumn, we strongly advised any student to start the DSA application process as soon as possible, to make sure that support will be available for the start of term.
Changes to DSA
SLC is currently working on a reform project that will make significant improvements to the DSA service. At the moment, there are no changes to the way students apply for DSA and students should apply as normal for the 23/24 academic year. Any transition to a new model will be fully communicated ahead of time to new and current students.
Please visit Help if you’re a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability: Disabled Students’ Allowance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for further information about applying for DSA.
For Welsh students applying for DSA, the student finance application service for full-time undergraduate students will open in the spring.