Disabled Students' Allowance - information for students

What are Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)?

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are grants to help toward meeting the additional studying costs or expenses that students face as a direct result of a disability or specific learning difficulty. DSAs help disabled students study on an equal basis with other students. Full-time, part-time and postgraduate students all qualify for help. DSAs are paid on top of the standard student finance package and are not means-tested.

DSAs are not provided by the University, but we can help you with your application (see Help applying for DSAs section below).

What do they pay for?

DSAs can help cover essential extra costs you might have during your course as a direct result of your disability. The Disabled Students Allowance consists of three elements:

  • Equipment Allowance
  • Non-medical Helpers Allowance
  • General Allowance
In addition to this, in certain circumstances, there is the possibility that additional travel related expenses may be met.

For further Information, please view the Government website: Help if you're a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability.

DSAs don’t pay for personal care. DSAs don’t depend on household income – what you can get depends on your individual needs. DSAs are not a loan you have to repay after graduation.

Who can apply for DSA?

You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) if you have a:

  • disability
  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty/difference including dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
You must also:

  • be an undergraduate or postgraduate student (including distance learning)
  • have a condition that affects their ability to study
  • qualify for student finance from their funding body
  • be studying on a course that lasts at least a year
You cannot get DSAs from Student Finance England if you are an EU student, an Overseas/International student. Students can contact the University of Plymouth's Disability Services Team at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk for further advice.

Who is eligible?

You can check their eligibility with their funding body: 

When can I apply?

New students: Youdon't have to wait until you’ve been offered a university place before you apply for the DSA, you can apply as soon as you’ve submitted your UCAS application.
Current students: Youcan apply for DSA at any time during your studies. The sooner you apply for your DSA, the sooner you’ll receive your support.

How do I apply?

To apply for DSA, you will need to complete an application form – these are available from your funding body, online at https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/how-to-claim. Student Finance England paper applications are available in the Student Hub.
When applying you will need formal, written evidence of a disability to determine the extra support you may require when studying at university.
Proof of disability or medical condition:
There are certain requirements regarding SpLD diagnostic reports which need to be met to qualify for a DSA. It is strongly recommended that you check the requirements and start your DSAs application before you go to university.
Proof of specific learning difficulty:
There are certain requirements regarding SpLD diagnostic reports which need to be met to qualify for a DSA. It is strongly recommended that you check the requirements and start your DSAs application before you go to university. 
You need to send a copy of your medical evidence and/or your specific learning difficulties assessment with your application form. Medical evidence forms for SFE are available in the Student Hub. 
Once you have sent in your application, your funding body will email you, usually within 10 working days. This email will confirm whether you are eligible for DSAs. You can get your eligibility letter posted to your online student finance account within 24 hours of receiving this email, the letter will also be posted to your registered address.
If your application has been accepted, the letter will ask you to arrange a study needs assessment. If your application is not accepted, there may be other actions you need to take, such as providing more up to date evidence (see Help applying for DSAs section below).

What is a needs assessment? 

A one-to-one meeting between the student and the assessor which can last up to two hours.
The DSA needs assessment is not a test butan opportunity to evaluate a range of strategies to support their studies. These will be considered in relation to the impact of their disability and the demandsof their chosen course of study.

How do students book a DSA needs assessment?

They can find their nearest registered assessment centre and book an appointment.

What happens next?

The assessor will make recommendations by sending a report to the student’s funding body who will then inform them about the next steps.

How are DSAs paid?

Money is paid directly to the organisation providing the service or equipment. Students should not buy any equipment until they’ve been assessed they won’t be reimbursed for it. The Needs Assessment is paid for through any DSA entitlement they have – students do not pay for the assessment themselves.

Help applying for DSAs

If you require support completing the form or need further information regarding the DSAs process, please contact Disability Services or come to the DSAs drop-in on Fridays at 14:00–16:00 in the Student Hub. There is no need to book, just ask for Gillian. If these times do not suit your timetable, please contact Disability Services to book a suitable appointment.

If you have completed your form and would like it checked, you can either email it to studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk, post it or bring it in to the Student Hub along with your medical evidence. A team member will check the form, send it off for processing and explain the next stages of the process.