Disabled Students' Allowance
Information for students and practitioners
Students applying for the Disabled Students' Allowance
If you have dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties you may be eligible for a Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) to help you with extra study-related costs. This can be on its own or in addition to any student finance you may get.
To receive a DSA, a student must meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010 and:
- be an undergraduate, part-time or postgraduate student (including Open University or distance learning)
- have a condition that affects their ability to study
- qualify for student finance from Student Finance England
- be studying on a course that lasts at least a year
What DSA can pay for
You can get help with the costs of:
- specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
- non-medical helpers, for example a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter or specialist note taker
- extra travel to attend your course or placement because of your disability
- other disability-related study support, for example having to print additional copies of documents for proof-reading
You do not need to pay back DSA funding, however, DSA does not cover disability-related costs you would have if you were not attending a course, or costs that any student might have.
To claim DSA
It can take up to 14 weeks from applying to get your DSA support in place as this is done separately. Applying for DSAs early means students can get their support in place before the start of term.
- Don't wait until you have a confirmed place or until you start your course to apply for DSAs, apply to make sure your support is in place for the start of term.
- If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia you will need a copy of a ‘diagnostic assessment’ from a suitably qualified specialist teacher assessor holding an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) or a practitioner psychologist registered with the HCPC. This assessment and report will need to be paid for. Your school, or the Disability Advisor at your university or college may be able to help arrange this.
- The report format and tests used should be as recommended by SASC.
- The report copy (originals are not required) can be uploaded to your Student Finance Online Account or sent by post.
Evidence for an application for DSA
Students with specific learning difficulty (SpLD), such as dyslexia, will need to provide evidence of their specific learning difficulty by submitting a diagnostic assessment from a practitioner psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher assessor holding an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).
A diagnostic assessment should meet SASC guidelines, and be based on tests recommended in the guidelines and updated by SASC and STEC. See Assessment is part of the diagnosis and the cost should be met by the student, although an application may be made to the Higher Education Provider’s discretionary funds to meet the cost. This assessment should be carried out by a qualified specialist assessor as noted above.
The Diagnostic report should state that because the student has an SpLD they should receive extra support to compensate for these difficulties.
Qualified Specialist Teacher Assessors
The following organisations have lists of qualified assessors with an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC). You will need to pay for your assessment report:
- Patoss Tutor and Assessor Index
- Dyslexia Guild Members’ Directory
- British Dyslexia Association (BDA): Diagnostic Assessments for Dyslexia
To check if a Specialist Teacher Assessor holds a current Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) see the listing on the SASC Find an SpLD Assessor web page.
- The British Psychological Society (BPS) holds a Directory of Chartered Psychologists. To find a chartered psychologist in your area. Search on town/ city or county and list the service as Dyslexia Assessment.
- The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) regulates Practitioner Psychologists.
You can check in the HCPC register that qualified psychologists are currently registered with them.
Study Needs Assessment
- If you've applied for a DSA and been told to book your Study Needs Assessment appointment, book it now. As soon as you've had this you can get your equipment in place, ready for the start of term.
- You don’t need to pay for the Study Needs Assessment and travel costs can be reimbursed once a DSA has been approved.
For further information see:
Government website for the Disabled Students’ Allowance: How to Claim
Student Finance England
- Full-time Disabled Students’ Allowance
- Part-time Disabled Students’ Allowance
- Postgraduate Disabled Students’ Allowance
To download a copy of this information click here.
SASC Updated June 2023