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What is the Disabled Students' Allowance?

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Find out what’s covered with the Disabled Students' Allowance, if you're eligible and how to apply.

What is the Disabled Students' Allowance?

The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) is a grant provided by the UK government to help full-time, part-time, and distance-learning students with disabilities, long-term health conditions, mental health conditions, or specific learning difficulties such as dyspraxia or dyslexia cover any extra costs they may incur while studying and striving for success at school.

The allowance can be used to pay for specialist equipment, software, non-medical helpers, mentors, travel costs, and other extra support services that are necessary to help students with disabilities complete their studies. Let’s explore everything you need to know about the DSA.

Qualifying for the Disabled Students' Allowance

It's worth noting that the DSA is means-tested, which means that eligibility is based on a student's income and other financial circumstances. However, for those who do qualify, the support provided can be invaluable in helping them to achieve their academic potential. To be eligible, students must have a needs assessment conducted at an assessment centre by an assessor. The study needs assessment is a crucial part of the DSA application process. This assessment identifies the type of support the student needs and ensures that the funding is allocated appropriately.

Applying for the Disabled Students' Allowance

The application process for DSA support varies depending on the student's location and level of study. In England, students can apply through Student Finance England (SFE), while in Scotland, they apply through the Student Awards Agency. In Wales, they apply through Student Finance Wales, and in Northern Ireland, they apply through their funding body.

The DSA application form can be completed online, and it covers a range of information about the student's impairment and individual needs. To apply for the DSA, a student must provide evidence of their impairment, and an assessment of their individual needs is then undertaken by a needs assessor. The study needs assessment is a crucial part of the DSA application process and helps identify the type of support required to ensure that the funding is allocated appropriately.

What types of support are covered by the DSA?

The DSA is an essential resource for students with impairments that ensures equal access to higher education and provides funding for various support programs based on an student’s individual needs including but not limited to diagnostic assessments, mentoring, British Sign Language interpreters, and more. For example, the DSA can cover extra travel costs for students with physical disabilities, and it can provide bursaries to cover study-related costs.

How the DSA helps dyslexic students

For students with dyslexia, the DSA can be extremely helpful as it can provide funding for a range of support services. This could include specialist software, such as text to speech or speech to text programs, which can help with reading and writing tasks.

In addition to equipment and software, the DSA can also provide funding for specialist support workers, such as note-takers or study skills tutors. These individuals can work with dyslexic students to help them develop strategies for managing their condition, such as breaking tasks down into smaller steps or using visual aids to aid with comprehension.

The DSA can also provide funding for other types of support, such as travel expenses or extra library access, which can help dyslexic students fully participate in their studies.

Use your Disabled Students’ Allowance on Speechify

If you’re a student with a disability or special need, you need support that understands and accommodates your unique requirements in order to thrive academically and enjoy learning. One such tool that can offer this help is Speechify – an AI-powered text to speech system created specifically with students in mind. It enables individuals facing reading challenges like dyslexia, ADHD, low vision or other vision impairments and other learning difficulties to access online course material quickly and easily.

With Speechify, you can instantly have any physical or digital text read aloud to you from study notes, news articles, research papers, social media posts, emails, and more, and thankfully, the Disabled Students' Allowances can cover the cost of Speechify’s software for you.

If you think you would benefit from a Speechify’s text to speech technology, ask your needs accessor about the DSA covering the expense, and in the meantime, try Speechify for free to see how it works for you.


What is the funding body for the DSA in the UK?

The funding body for the DSA is Student Finance England (SFE), which is part of the website.

Is DSA for children?

While DSA is available to students of all ages, it is not specifically designed for children. The grant is available to eligible students enrolled in undergraduate or postgraduate courses at universities, colleges, and other higher education institutions.

What is the difference between DSA and EMA?

The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) is a government grant available to eligible students with disabilities or long-term health conditions to help them overcome barriers to learning and participate in higher education on an equal basis with their peers. DSA provides funding to cover the costs of specialized equipment, software, and other services that students may need to access their course materials and participate in their studies.

On the other hand, the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a financial allowance available to eligible students aged 16-19 who come from low-income households to help them continue their studies in further education (FE) or sixth-form college. EMA is intended to help cover the costs of essentials such as textbooks, transportation, and meals.

How much money do you get from DSA?

The amount of funding provided through DSA can vary widely and is determined based on a student’s unique needs.

Can I get a Macbook with DSA?

Yes, it is possible for eligible students to receive funding for a MacBook or other computer equipment through the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) in the UK if it is deemed necessary to support their studies.

Where is DSA available?

The DSA is only available to students in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and eligibility criteria may vary depending on the location and individual circumstances.

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.