Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is used to pay for support you need to access your studies which arise as a direct result of your disability, long term medical condition, specific learning difficulty or long term mental health difficulty. The DSA is not means tested and it is not a loan.
The DSA is available from whichever body is funding you for your studies, e.g. Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Local Authority, SAAS, Research Councils or the NHS. If you are unsure of who is funding you, the Disability and Dyslexia Service can advise you.
Am I eligible for a DSA?
The DSA is available to most disabled students from the UK; as such the following groups of students are potentially eligible to a DSA.
Full-time UK undergraduates – YES
Part-time UK undergraduates – YES if 50% of a full-time course*
Full-time UK postgraduates – YES*
Part-time UK postgraduates – Yes if 50% of full-time course*
* Please contact a Disability & Dyslexia Service adviser to check your eligibility
EU and International students are not covered by the UK DSA system. For information on other funding available please see;
Students on short courses are usually not eligible for the DSA. In these circumstances we advise you to contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service as soon as possible to discuss the support you need, and any funding requirements, to access your studies at Cardiff University.
What does a DSA cover?
DSA’s are not paid in set amounts as each award is based on an individual assessment of need. The DSA can be used to fund the following up to the maximum amounts shown (amounts accurate for 2010/11):
Full and Part time undergraduate students
Type of allowance
Specialist equipment and software
£5,161 for entire course
£5,161 for entire course
Non-medical helper e.g. Study Skills, note takers, communicators
£20,520 a year
£15,390 a year (depends on intensity of course)
General e.g. photocopying, sundry items, printing costs
£1,724 a year
£1,293 a year (depends on intensity of course)
Travel costs can sometimes be met if you have to pay extra to attend university
Full and part-time postgraduate students
There is one allowance to meet all costs of up to £10,260 a year. You can use this for specialist equipment, non-medical personal expenses, extra travel costs or other course-related costs.
How do I apply for a DSA?
To apply for a DSA you have to supply evidence of your disability, mental health difficulty, long term medical condition or a specific learning difficulty to your funding body, e.g. Student Finance England (SFE), Student Finance Wales (SFW), your LEA, SAAS, NHS Awards Unit or Funding Council. Your funding body will then decide on your eligibility.
We advise that you apply for the DSA as early as possible because the process can take several months to complete. The Disability and Dyslexia Service can help you with your application.
How do I know what equipment and support I will need from a DSA?
Your funding body will first contact you to let you know if your application has been approved. If agreed, they will advise you to have a DSA Needs Assessment. This assessment will make recommendations regarding the support and equipment you need and can be arranged by the Disability and Dyslexia Service at the Cardiff Assessment Centre.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss the DSA process further then please contact us to speak to an adviser.
Please click here for extra information about the DSA from DSA-QAG, the body which regulates the DSA Needs Assessments.