Getting disabled students prepared for university or college

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) could support you while you’re studying – don’t miss out.

Applying for student finance and Disabled Students’ Allowance

The quickest and easiest way to apply for DSA is online. But you can also do it on a paper form, if you prefer.

When you apply for student finance, make sure you tick the box to say you want to apply for DSA. You should then complete the rest of your student finance application and submit.

Once you’ve submitted your student finance application, you’ll need to complete a separate application for DSA. You’ll find this in your ‘to do’ list in your online account.

Don’t wait until we approve your student finance application before you apply for DSA as we’ll assess these at the same time. It’s important to apply early to make sure you get your support in place before the start of your course.

Help completing your application

We understand that it can be difficult completing your application for DSA for various reasons.

If you’re having trouble completing your application, you can get in touch with our DSA team who’ll be able to offer their help.

You can also speak to your university, college or school, who may have a Disability Liaison officer or Well-being advisor who can also help you fill in your DSA application.

Information about your disability or condition

As part of your application for DSA, you’ll need to give us some supporting documents about your disability or condition. You should try and give us these as soon as you can. This means we’ll have everything we need to work out what help you can get before your course starts.

For more information on what documents you can send us, check out our eligibility page.

If you’re still not sure what documents to send us for your condition, you can get in touch with our DSA team for help.

Getting your application in early

The earlier you apply, the earlier you’ll be able to arrange your needs assessment and get any support or equipment in place for the start of your course.

It can take up to 100 days to get your DSA support in place. If your course starts in September, you should have your application in by the beginning of June.

If your application is late, you may not have the support you need in place for the start of your course. In some cases, disabled students have had to leave their course because they haven’t had the support they need.

You don’t need a confirmed place at university or college to apply for DSA, so don’t wait for offers. You should apply using your preferred choice and you can simply update your details if anything changes.

If you get a diagnosis after your course has started, you can still apply for DSA. You should apply as soon as you’re able to.

After you’ve applied and your application has been approved, we’ll send you a letter with details of your supplier to arrange your needs assessment. If you give permission, we’ll pass your details directly to the supplier who’ll be in touch to arrange this.

You may still need to book a needs assessment even if you’ve recently had a medical assessment to get your diagnostic report, as these are different.

What to expect from your ‘needs assessment’

A needs assessment is not a test but a conversation. You'll speak to a needs assessor about how your disability or condition affects you and how it may affect you while you're studying.

You'll talk about what extra support you'll need to help you get the best out of your studies.

To help you prepare, you may want to find out about the coursework you'll be doing during your studies, to give you an idea of the support you might need.

You should make sure you send any evidence your supplier has asked for to your needs assessor, before you attend your needs assessment. This will be the same evidence you’ve given us as part of your application for DSA.

The needs assessment is completely confidential, and usually lasts 1-2 hours.

Your needs assessment can be completed in person or online by video call. Your supplier will be able to accommodate whichever option you prefer. You’ll be offered a selection of time slots to choose from.

After the assessment, we’ll be sent a report from your needs assessor with recommendations of the support you’ll need. We’ll use the report to work out what support you’ll get based on their recommendations and send you an entitlement letter to confirm this. The letter will also be sent to your supplier who will arrange your equipment support.

Now that you know how to apply for your DSA, apply now to make sure you’re prepared for starting university or college.