Frequently asked questions
You can find answers to our most frequently asked questions below. If you had any other questions or queries please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us on +44 (0) 28 9592 9060.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a grant that helps to pay for additional equipment and support that you may need as a direct result of your physical disability, mental health condition, long term illness or any other disability.
You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You will not need to repay DSAs.
If you’re a part-time student your DSA funding level will be proportionate to the amount of points you are studying per year compared to a full time course.
How much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income.
Once your eligibility for a DSA is confirmed, your funder will ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need. Book My Assessment can help with arranging this and can conduct your DSA Needs Assessment.
You should not book an appointment until your funder supplies you with a confirmation letter known as a DSA1.
You do not pay anything personally for your assessment. The assessment fee is paid for by your funder 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.
Do not buy any equipment until you’ve been assessed – you will not be reimbursed for it.
You can get help with the costs of:
- specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
- non-medical helpers
- extra travel because of your disability
- other disability-related costs of studying
You may get a new computer if you do not already have one, or your current one does not meet your study needs. More information will be provided to you if you’re assessed as needing a new computer.
If you are funded by SFE, and have been recommended a computer as part of your assessment, you will need to pay the first £200, which is the minimum cost that any student is likely to incur when buying a computer.
DSAs do not cover disability-related costs you’d have if you were not attending a course, or costs that any student might have.
You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) if you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and have a disability that affects your ability to study, such as a:
specific learning difficulty, for example dyslexia or ADHD
mental health condition, for example anxiety or depression
physical disability, for example if you have to use crutches, a wheelchair or a special keyboard
sensory disability, for example if you’re visually impaired, deaf or have a hearing impairment
long-term health condition, for example 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 (SFE), Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), Student Finance Wales (SFW) or Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI)
be studying on a course that lasts at least a year
You cannot get DSAs from SFE, SAAS, SFW or SFNI if you are:
an EU student
eligible for NHS Disabled Students’ Allowances (this is a separate scheme but Book My Assessment can also conduct your assessment for these alternate funders – Please contact us for more information)
getting equivalent support from another funding source, like from your university or a social work bursary
During the assessment, you will:
Reflect on the effects of your disability (this includes long-term medical conditions or dyslexia) on any previous education or training you have taken part in.
Consider all the requirements of the current or prospective course.
Explore, evaluate and identify the best strategies to use to overcome the effects of your disability on your course requirements and independent studies.
The assessor has a duty to make appropriate recommendations for funding from the Disabled Students’ Allowances based on need. This is based on evidence and justifications with regards to the challenges you face as a result of your disability.
The assessor and needs assessment centre have no control over the DSA funds or how they are allocated. The funding is controlled by your funding body. The justification is based upon how your disability affects your ability to study and not just on your disability.
Assessment sessions can last up to two hours depending on the type of disability and range of needs. After the session the assessor will spend a few days (up to 5 working days) researching and writing up your report.
The assessment report is confidential and only made available to you, your university / College (with your permission) and the funding authority.
Inform your assessor of the age, condition and specification (RAM and processor) of the computer you are currently using for your studies, and if you are the owner.
Find out about the activities the course will expect you to participate in. How is the course delivered (lectures, seminars, labs)? How many weeks does your course run for? Is there any fieldwork? Do you need to go on a placement? How are you assessed? Do you need to use any particular equipment or software? How does the workload change over the course? How much reading will you need to do? How many teaching hours are there? Do tutors expect students to use email and online resources?
Think about how effective your previous study strategies were. Did you have help from family, friends or teachers - people who might not be able to help as much now?
Speak to your tutors and disability support staff - they could have useful suggestions. Information from your tutor or disability adviser giving details of any specific concerns can be brought to the assessment.
If you are having a Face-to Face assessment, make sure you know how to get to the centre.
Prior to the assessment, arrange any personal assistance or communication support needs so that your assessor is fully prepared in advance of meeting you.
You should expect your DSA Needs Assessment report to be with you by ten working days (two weeks), although it can take longer if specialist equipment (ergonomic) needs to be identified. Once you receive the assessment report, this is an indication that it has also been sent to your funding body. With your permission, your University/College will also receive a copy for their records.
If you don't hear from your funding body within a reasonable time (15 – 20 working days) you should contact the funding body responsible for your application (these details will be in Section E of your report) and find out what is happening.
If your funding body does not agree with the recommendations of the report, let us know as soon as you can as we may be able to help.
Once your report is approved, your funding body will write to you (DSA2 entitlement letter) and tell you what you have been awarded and how you go about obtaining your support.
When equipment has been ordered it should not normally take longer than 28 days to arrive. Most suppliers will provide equipment much sooner than this, unless specialist software needs to be ordered.
If the equipment supplier seems to be taking too long to provide your equipment, or does anything else you are not happy about, please contact Book My Assessment and let us know. We can act on your behalf to support you.
- 18001 then 0300 100 0607
- Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington, DL1 9HJ