The Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
These grants are paid by Student Finance England (SFE) for additional disability related costs of study to help pay the extra costs you may have as a direct result of your disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition, or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. DSA’s can help pay for extra study related costs like specialist equipment or travel costs, or (in some circumstances) a non-medical helper.
DSA is not income assessed.
More detailed information is available: https://www.ucas.com/disabled-students-allowances-dsas and https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/applying-disabled-students%E2%80%99-allowances-dsas
For more information about the support available at QMUL for students with disabilities or an ongoing medical condition or specific learning difficulty or a mental health condition and help applying for DSA’s including organising a needs assessment, contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service: www.dds.qmul.ac.uk
DSAs are not means tested and not repayable. They are available to ‘home’ undergraduates and postgraduates. DSAs will not be counted as income for welfare benefits, because they are paid for course related costs. Help available for undergraduates from DSAs in 2018/19 this includes:
- Specialist Equipment Allowance up to £5529 for the whole course
- Non-medical Helper Allowance (in some circumstances) up to £21,987 per year (or up to £16,489 for part-time students pro rata)
- General Allowance up to £1847 per year (or up to £1342 for part-time students)
- Travel Costs - this covers reasonable spending on extra travel costs because of your disability.
Help available for postgraduates from DSAs
In 2018/19 there is one DSA allowance to meet all costs of up to £10,993 per year for both full and part-time postgraduate students.
How do I apply for DSAs?
If you want to apply for DSAs or need advice about your eligibility, you should contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service (DDS) at QMUL: www.dds.qmul.ac.uk
Once you have decided to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances, there are several steps before you receive your equipment and support. At certain points you will need to take an active role in the process. This will be explained to you in letters and emails from Student Finance England. It’s best to apply early in the year so that you have time to respond to the letters and emails before the summer holidays. You can usually apply for DSA at the same time as making your main online application.
If you ticked the Disabled Students’ Allowances box on your student loan application, you will receive a DSA1 application form with your basic details already filled in. Otherwise you can download the form from the Student Finance website.
Before applying for DSAs it can be helpful to have an early discussion with a disability adviser in DDS www.dds.qmul.ac.uk.
The disability adviser can help you complete the application form for DSAs if needed.
You will need to send the completed form along with evidence of your impairment, health condition or disability.
The evidence can be a diagnostic assessment for a specific learning difficulty, or a letter from your doctor or consultant stating the nature of your condition and ideally briefly explaining how it impacts you. If you have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan in England, this can support the diagnosis and be used to indicate the areas where you need support.
If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia you will need to send your diagnostic assessment-which tells you about your own learning profile. The assessment needs to have been carried out after your 16th birthday. If the diagnostic assessment was carried out in 2012 or after, the psychologist must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a practitioner psychologist.
Once you have sent the form and evidence of your disability, Student Finance will write and/or email you to confirm that you are eligible for DSAs. If you have ticked the ‘consent to share’ box, a copy will be sent to the adviser in DDS.
Student Finance will write to you about a needs assessment. Many students worry about what this involves, especially if they had a previous assessment at school or through the health service where their voice wasn’t listened to or which only focused on what they couldn’t do. However, the needs assessment for DSAs is not like this. Its purpose is to make sure you have the best possible opportunity in higher education to show your abilities, make good progress and achieve your goals.
The needs assessor will sit down with you, discuss your course and identify areas where you might benefit from using, for example, computer technology. They might show you different equipment and software, discuss the different features and give you the chance to use it. Assessors are experienced in the range of equipment and human support that’s available and will help you decide what’s best. They will then write a report and send it to Student Finance, and they’ll send you a copy as well if you wish.
Making an appointment
There are assessment centres across the country that offer specialist needs assessment services for students going into higher education, contact DDS to organise an appointment www.dds.qmul.ac.uk. Most students can find an assessment centre that is either near home or QMUL.
All assessment centres have to meet quality standards and the organisation that sets and checks these standards is called DSA-QAG (Disabled Students Allowance-Quality Assurance Group). Student Finance will direct you to the DSA-QAG website where you can find an up to date list of access centres and enter your postcode to find one near you.
Student Finance can’t process your DSA application until you have a needs assessment. Nothing will happen until you take this step.
Getting support in place
Once Student Finance receive the assessor’s report, they will write to you to confirm your entitlement and advise you how to order any recommended equipment. They will also recommend that (if you have not already done so) you contact a disability adviser at QMUL www.dds.qmul.ac.uk to organise personal support such as one-to-one dyslexia support. You will get a copy of the report too.
These steps need to be completed to get your support in place for the beginning of your first term. If you leave it late, you may find it difficult to get a convenient appointment. You can ask an adviser in DDS www.dds.qmul.ac.uk for advice at any time. They are aware that it may seem a bit daunting and are very experienced in helping students through the process.
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.