Disabled Students' Allowance

What is a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)?

DSA help pay for extra costs a student might have as a direct result of their disability, including a long-term health condition, mental-health condition, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or specific learning difficulty. They must meet the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

They can help with the cost of having a person to support the student, items of specialist equipment, travel and other study-related costs.

Students starting a course in 2021/22 can get up to £31,831 of support per year.

DSA can help pay for:

  • day-to-day costs of studying that are related to the student’s disability. For example, photocopying costs.
  • specialist equipment. For example, a computer or disability-related software. Any equipment bought must have been included in the report from their Study Needs Assessment.
  • a non-medical helper. For example, a British Sign Language interpreter. This person cannot be a friend or family member of the student.
  • Travel costs.

DSA don’t usually have to be paid back, unless the student leaves their course early.

Who can apply?

Students could get DSA if they have:

  • a physical disability
  • a long-term health condition or mental-health condition, such as anxiety or depression
  • a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia
  • a developmental disorder, such as Autism spectrum disorder or ADHD/ADD
  • a progressive medical condition, such as multiple sclerosis, cancer or HIV
  • a sensory impairment that could affect their ability to see or hear

DSA are available to full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Whether or not a student can get DSA won’t be affected by their age or any previous study they might have.

What’s available?

DSA don’t depend on household income – what a student can get depends on their individual needs.

The student will have to attend an appointment at a study needs assessment centre to talk to a specialist about what type of support would help them. They’ll send us a report to tell us what support they recommend. We’ll review the report and make a final decision. We’ll then send the student a letter telling them what they can get.

The following table shows the maximum amounts available for 2020/21.


Maximum for full-time undergraduate students

Maximum for part-time undergraduate students

Non-medical helper allowance

£23,258 a year

Details coming soon

Specialist equipment allowance

£5,849 for the duration of their course

Details coming soon

General allowance

£1,954 a year

Details coming soon

Travel allowance

Reasonable spending on extra travel costs as a result of the student’s condition.

How to apply

Full-time student applying for other student finance, such as a Tuition Fee Loan, will be able to apply for DSA from their online account after they’ve submitted their main student finance application.

After they’ve applied for DSA, they’ll be told what evidence they need to send us to support their application.

If they’re only applying for DSA and no other type of student finance, they need to complete a paper application form.

They’ll be able to download this from www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/forms when the service opens.

The application process for DSA can take around 14 weeks, so they should apply as soon as they can.


When students apply for DSA, they need to give us evidence of their disability. This table shows the evidence they should send us:

This table shows the evidence they should send us:

For specific learning difficulties

A full diagnostic report from:

  • a practitioner psychologist, or
  • a specialist teacher holding a current Assessment Practising Certificate.

For physical or sensory disabilities, long-term health conditions and mental-health conditions

A Disability Evidence Form or a photocopy of a written statement or letter from a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This letter should confirm the long-term effects their disability has on them being able to carry out day-to-day activities, including education.

For Autism spectrum disorders

A copy of one of the following:

  • a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) from a local authority,
  • an Educational Health Care Plan, or
  • a written statement or letter from a doctor or qualified medical professional which confirms the long term effects their disorder has on their ability to carry out day to day activities, including education.

The student will have to pay for any tests they need to prove they’re able to get DSA. If they need a test but can’t afford to pay for it, they may be able to get financial help from their university or college.

Getting information in other formats

Students can order forms and guides in Braille, large print or audio by emailing their Customer Reference Number along with which form and format they require to brailleandlargefonts@slc.co.uk or they can call us on 0141 243 3686.

Please note, this email address and telephone number can only deal with requests for alternative formats of forms and guides.

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