Am I eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance?

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Accessibility on April 26, 2023
Discover if you're eligible for the Disabled Students' Allowance. Our comprehensive guide outlines the requirements and application process.

    Am I eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance?

    As a student with a disability, navigating the world of higher education can be a challenging experience. Fortunately, there are a range of support systems and financial assistance programs available to help make your academic journey more accessible. One of the most important resources for disabled students in the United Kingdom is the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), so let’s dive into what it is, who’s eligible, and how you can apply.

    What is the Disabled Students’ Allowance?

    The NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance is a government-funded program that provides financial support to disabled students who require additional support to help them succeed in their studies. DSA support is intended to cover any additional costs associated with a student’s disability and support needed to overcome barriers they face while studying, such as specialist equipment, note-takers, sign-language interpreters, specialist teachers, or even travel expenses.

    Eligibility requirements for the Disabled Students’ Allowance

    To be eligible for the DSA, a student must be enrolled in a higher education program in the UK and have a long-term health condition or disability that affects their ability to study and requires extra support. Disabilities that may be covered by the DSA include dyslexia, dyspraxia, physical disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory impairments, and specific learning difficulties.

    How do I prove my eligibility for the DSA

    The eligibility criteria for the Disability Support Allowance (DSA) vary depending on the country or region in which you live. However, in general, to prove your eligibility for the DSA, you will need to provide evidence that you have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to carry out everyday activities.

    Here are some steps you can take to prove your eligibility for the DSA:

    1. Contact the appropriate government agency in your country or region to find out the eligibility criteria for the DSA.

    2. Obtain a formal diagnosis of your disability or health condition from a qualified medical professional. This could be your GP, a specialist, or a psychologist.

    3. Gather any other relevant medical information, such as test results, medical reports, and letters from healthcare professionals.

    4. Complete any application forms required for the DSA and provide all the necessary evidence to support your claim.

    5. Attend any assessments or interviews required as part of the DSA application process.

    6. Follow up on your application and keep track of any deadlines or requests for further information.

    Remember that the process for proving eligibility for the DSA can vary depending on where you live, so it’s important to check with the appropriate government agency for specific guidance on how to apply.

    Where does a DSA Needs Assessment fit into the process?

    A DSA needs assessment is an important step in the DSA application process. It helps determine the level of support required by the student based on their individual needs. It is carried out by an accredited needs assessor who will assess the student’s eligibility and identify the appropriate support required to assist them throughout their course.

    What does the Disabled Students’ Allowance cover?

    The DSA can cover a range of costs associated with a student’s disability, including specialist equipment and software, non-medical helpers, mentoring services, and even in certain cases, travel expenses. For example, if you require a special mode of transportation or assistance to travel due to your disability or health condition, the DSA may be able to help cover the additional costs associated with this.

    How to apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance

    If you are eligible for the DSA, you will need to contact your funding body, such as Student Finance England, Wales, or Scotland or your local Education Authority in Northern Ireland. They will be able to provide you with more information on how to apply and what evidence you will need to provide. The process for applying for the DSA can vary depending on the country and region you are in. Therefore, it’s best to check with the appropriate government agency or organization for specific guidance on how to apply.

    Eligible students

    A range of students can apply for the DSA, including postgraduate students, full-time and part-time students, and distance-learning students. However, they must meet the same eligibility criteria. For example, a UK resident must be enrolled in an eligible course at an approved institution. Household income does not affect eligibility for the DSA. However, students will need to provide evidence of their disability or long-term health condition, such as a letter from a medical professional or an assessment report from a Needs Assessment Centre.

    • Postgraduate students — For postgraduate students, the DSA is available for both taught and research courses. However, the type of support provided may differ from undergraduate courses, as postgraduate students are expected to be more independent in their learning.

    • Full-time and part-time students — Both full-time and part-time students can apply for the DSA. However, the amount of funding available may vary depending on your study pattern. For example, part-time students may be eligible for reduced funding, while full-time students may be eligible for a higher amount of funding.

    • Distance-learning students — Distance-learning students can also apply for the DSA, but they must meet the same eligibility criteria as on-campus students. However, the type of support provided may differ from on-campus students, as distance-learning students may have different needs. For example, they may require specialist software or equipment to access online resources.

    Ineligible students

    International students and EU students are not eligible for the DSA, however, they may be able to get tuition fee support or equivalent support from another source, such as their university or a social work bursary.

    When to apply for DSA

    It is recommended that you apply for the DSA as early as possible in your course. This will allow you to receive the necessary support from the beginning of your studies and ensure that you can access any necessary equipment or services.

    How to use the DSA to cover speechify

    If you require assistance with reading and note-taking due to a specific learning difficulty or learning disability, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ADHD, or a physical disability like a vision impairment, Speechify may be eligible for funding under the DSA. To determine eligibility, you will need to undergo a needs assessment, and if approved, you can then apply for funding to cover the cost of the software.

    With Speechify’s text to speech technology, you can turn any physical or digital text into audio files. This helps students who struggle with reading and note-taking to better access their course materials. Speechify’s technology can also help with other tasks, such as proofreading, by allowing the user to listen to their written work being read back to them. By providing an alternative way to engage with course materials, Speechify can help students to improve their academic performance and achieve their goals. Try Speechify for free today to see how it can help you.


    Are part-time undergraduate students eligible for DSA?

    Yes, in some countries, part-time undergraduate students may be eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if they meet the eligibility criteria, which typically includes having a disability or health condition that affects their ability to study.

    Where do I go to apply for DSA?

    The process for applying for the DSA can vary depending on the country and region you are in. In general, you can apply for the DSA online, by post, or through your university or college’s disability services team. It’s best to check with the appropriate government agency or organization for specific guidance on how to apply in your area.

    Is the DSA means-tested?

    Yes, in some countries, the DSA is means-tested, which means that eligibility for the benefit is based on the individual’s financial situation. The specific rules around means testing may vary depending on the country and region in which you live, so it’s best to check with the appropriate government agency or organization for more information.

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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