Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
Disabled Students' Allowance
Our aim as a department is to provide help and assistance to students with disabilities when it is required. Support is provided through many different forms, a few examples of the support we offer include advice, extra time in exams or Non-Medical Helper (NMH) support.
Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) provides financial support to students with on-going health conditions, mental health conditions and SpLD’ s to help meet the additional costs that may be incurred when utilising support from the institution.
DSA can help with the cost of having a non-medical helper, specialist equipment, and the cost of extra travel and other items for your course, such as extra books and photocopying.
If you are an apprentice you are not eligible for DSA. Please refer to the Support for Apprenticeship Students page.
The amount awarded to individual students depends on the type of support that the student has been identified as a necessary adjustment outlined in their Access Report.
To download any forms from Student Finance England (SFE) go to: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms
This video BSL by Student Finance England (SFE) outlines funding available for students with disabilities and other needs.
Frequently asked questions regarding the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)
As a higher education student living in England, you can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if you have a disability, including a:
- long-term health condition
- mental health condition
- specific learning difficulty, eg dyslexia
You must meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010.
You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) if you live in England and have a disability that affects your ability to study, such as a:
- learning difficulty, for example dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD
- mental health condition like anxiety or depression
- physical disability, for example if you’re partially sighted or have to use crutches
- long-term health condition such as cancer, chronic heart disease or HIV
You must also:
- be an undergraduate or postgraduate student (including Open University or distance learning)
- qualify for student finance from Student Finance England
- be studying on a course that lasts at least a year - please check with your Disability Advisor to ensure your course is an eligible one
Who isn’t eligible
You can’t get DSAs from Student Finance England if you’re:
- students on an Apprenticeship course
- an EU student
- eligible for an NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance (this is a separate scheme)
- getting equivalent support from another funding source, like from your university or a social work bursary
Proving you’re eligible
You won’t automatically get DSAs - you need proof of your eligibility.
For part-time students, your course intensity can affect how much you get.
‘Course intensity’ means how long your course takes to complete each year compared to an equivalent full-time course. You can check course intensity with your university or college.
The rules are different depending on your course.
Part-time courses that started before 1 September 2012
Your course must not last more than twice as long as the equivalent full-time course.
Part-time courses starting from 1 September 2012
You must study at a rate of at least 25% of an equivalent full-time course in each academic year. The course must last at least a year.
Part-time postgraduate master’s courses
If you’re applying for a Postgraduate Loan for a part-time master’s degree, the course must not last more than twice as long as the full-time equivalent.
The DSA may be used for:
- Specialist equipment (Dictaphone, laptop, software)
- Non-Medical helpers (notetakers, facilitators, specialist tutor)
- Travel costs
- General allowance (consumables)
Early application is essential to ensure that students support is in place at the beginning of their course and continued throughout the academic year.
Your DSA Funding Provider (for example, Student Finance England) will pay any Approved Supplier(s) direct for any recommended Assistive Technology and Assistive Technology Training.
You may get money from the General Allowance by sending receipts to your DSA Funding Provider for anything you have paid for, such as photocopying, special paper, or taxi fares. They will then pay you back, if you have been assessed as requiring these.
You should apply for Disabled Students' Allowance as soon as possible. You don't have to wait until you have a confirmed place, although you can apply at any stage of your course.
If you are still unsure on the process of how to apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), please contact ASK@WLV by telephone on 01902 518 518 or log a new help desk call to ASK@WLV.
To show that you qualify for Disabled Students' Allowance, you will need to provide evidence that you have a disability, mental-health condition, medical condition, or a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, which affects your ability to study.
If you have a physical disability, medical condition, mental health condition or sensory impairment, you will need to provide medical evidence of this. This can be a letter from a Doctor or suitable Specialist.
You can also fill in the: Mental Health Evidence form
If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, you must provide evidence in the form of a post-16 Diagnostic Assessment from a Chartered Psychologist with a Health Professional Council (HPC) Practising Certificate, or a specialist dyslexia teacher with a Practising Certificate.
You may need to pay for any tests or letters to prove that you qualify.
If you cannot afford this you may be able to get financial help through the university's Dennis Turner Opportunity Fund.
You should speak to a Disability Adviser about any of the above including getting a support letter from your doctor.
Students on Apprenticeship courses are not eligible for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA). If you have a disability, Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) or mental health condition you can still access support including (as appropriate to the course) automatic extensions, extended library loans, access to accessible software on University computers and access to University support services.
You can speak to your course team about support (known as Reasonable Adjustments) which may include options like getting notes/slides in advance of sessions to prepare.
Please contact SSW if you would like to set up a meeting with one of our Disabilty and Inclusion Team who can discuss with you additional support options as appropriate.
Please refer to the Support for Apprenticeship Students page for more guidance.
If you have already applied for funding through Student Finance then you will need DSA Guidance notes short form
You can order forms and guides in Braille, large print or audio by emailing with your name, address, customer reference number along with what form and format you require to:
- Tel: 0141 243 3686
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please ensure that you have used the correct application form and are sending information to the appropriate funding body before proceeding.
Please make copies of any evidence before sending to your DSA Funding Provider.
Useful questions and answers when applying for DSA:
- England: https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas
- Scotland: www.saas.gov.uk
- Wales: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk
- Northern Ireland: www.studentfinanceni.co.uk
It is important to remember the following points when applying for DSA:
- You do not have to pay back any money for the support and equipment you receive
- Make a copy of any evidence that you send to support your application
- Make a note of the day the application was sent to enable you to chase this up if you do not have any contact with the funding body within a couple of weeks
If you have completed an online application form for Student Finance and indicated that you want to apply for DSA, Student Finance England will send you a DSA application form with your details already filled in for you to sign and return with evidence. Alternatively, you can download the shortened DSA application form. You WILL NOT have to apply again for each year of your course.
If you are only applying for DSA and not additional funding, or are a Part-time student you should download the full DSA application form. You WILL have to reapply for DSA each year of your course.
Once you have completed your form (if on paper), you will need to send it along with evidence of your disability, or medical condition or mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty (SpLD). If you completed it online you will just need to send your evidence.
We would highly recommend that you:
- take a copy of both form and any evidence you are sending
- make sure you put your customer reference number (if you have one) on everything you send
- send everything recorded delivery to the following address
Student Finance England
PO Box 210
Your DSA Funding Provider will send you an approval letter to let you know if you qualify for the Disabled Students' Allowance. You may wish to inform your Disability Adviser, letting them know that you have received DSA approval.
If the letter says that you do not qualify for the Disabled Students' Allowance, you may find it helpful to contact a Disability Adviser.
Once your eligibility for DSAs is confirmed, Student Finance England may ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need. This is known as a needs assessment. Don’t book this until Student Finance England asks you to. The assessment is paid for through any DSAs entitlement you may have.
A Study Needs Assessment is an informal meeting between a student and an experienced study needs assessor. This will help identify what support the student requires based on their individual needs. A Study Needs Assessment is required if the student has applied, and been considered eligible, for Disabled Students’ Allowances.
Your Needs Assessor will write a Needs Assessment Report which will list and justify any recommended Assistive Technology and Specialist Support you will need, how much it will cost, where to get it from, and any Specialist Training you may need to make best use of the Assistive Technology.
Once your eligibility for DSAs is confirmed, Student Finance England may ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need.
This is known as a needs assessment. Don’t book this until Student Finance England asks you to.
The assessment is paid for through any DSAs entitlement you may have.
After the assessment, you’ll get a report listing equipment and other support you can get for your course.
Don’t buy any equipment until you’ve been assessed - you won’t be reimbursed for it.
Your DSA Needs Assessment Report will be based on:
- what you told the Needs Assessor,
- further research if needed,
- any previous assessments you may have had.
You can expect the DSA Needs Assessment Centre to send you the Needs Assessment Report in about 10 working days. If you have not received your Report after the 10 working days, or have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with your Needs Assessment Centre
The Needs Assessment Centre will send a copy of your DSA Needs Assessment Report to your Funding Provider. If you agreed to it, they will also send a copy to your Disability Adviser. If any Assistive Technology Training is recommended, they may pass some information to the trainers (with your permission) to make sure you get the most out of your Assistive Technology Training sessions.
You should wait for approval from your Funding Provider. They will send you a DSA Entitlement Letter, telling you what they will pay for. Sometimes the Funding Provider may refuse to agree to some of the Assessor’s recommendations. You need to contact your DSA Assessment Centre if your Funding Provider does this.
Once you receive your DSA Entitlement Letter from your Funding Provider you can order the approved support listed in the letter.
Your DSA Funding Provider will send you a letter to tell you what Assistive Technology and other Specialist Support they will pay for from the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
You may need to send a copy of this letter to the relevant approved suppliers listed in the letter.
Equipment Supplier - This is the Approved Supplier who you must contact to order your Assistive Technology.
Quote Reference Number - You will need to quote this when you contact the Approved Supplier.
Assistive Technology Training - A trainer will show you how to use your Assistive Technology.
If the Assistive Technology Trainer is the same as the Assistive Technology Provider then an appointment slot(s) will be arranged for within 10 working days of you receiving your Assistive Technology.
If the Assistive Technology Trainer is different from your Assistive Technology Provider you will need to contact them yourself using the contact details on your Entitlement Letter.
An Assistive Technology Trainer will tutor you on how to use your Assistive hardware and software. This is normally limited to a maximum of 3 hours per day, but shorter sessions can be arranged.
Specialist Support - This includes Specialist Support like one-to-one support, notetaking, study mentoring, etc. You should contact your Disability Adviser about this.
The General Allowance helps pay for other disability related spending, such as printer cartridges and photocopying.
You must keep receipts for everything you pay for that you want to claim back through the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
You will not be paid back without receipts. You should make copies of any receipts.
Additional Travel Allowance can be used to claim for reasonable additional travel costs for the academic year due to your disability.
If you do require help then please contact your Disability Advisor directly or contact the Student Support & Wellbeing (SSW) office either in person, via phone or email:
MI001 Alan Turing Building
Tel: (01902) 321074
Also, you may be able to apply to have any £200 equipment costs that you may have to pay refunded via our Dennis Turner Opportunity Fund. For more information including how to apply, whether you are eligible and what evidence you would need to provide please see www.wlv.ac.uk/fund.
You can contact someone from the fund via:
MI001 Alan Turing Building
Tel: (01902) 321070
Please contact the team to:
- discuss disability or specific learning difficulty support
- access advice and support for a mental health condition
- access information about supporting your mental health and wellbeing
- connect with our Chaplaincy service
- seek advice on funding and financial support
- seek advice as a D/deaf or hearing impaired student