Disabled Students' Allowance

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) (UK Students Only)

If you are a student from the UK and have a disability, ongoing medical condition, longstanding mental health problem or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, you can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to fund additional course costs or expenses that may arise because of your disability.

DSA is not means tested, i.e. household income is not taken into account when calculating entitlement. It is paid in addition to your student funding award (e.g. student loan) and does not have to be paid back.

Depending on your support needs, four allowances can be applied for:

  • Basic Consumables Allowance
  • Equipment Allowance
  • Non-Medical Personal Helpers Allowance.
  • Extra travel costs

The provision available within the University may adequately meet your support needs and it might not be necessary for you to apply for DSA. Your support needs and eligibility to apply for DSA will be discussed during initial meetings with a Disability Advisor in Student Services.


You can apply to your funding authority (SAAS, Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales or Student Finance Northern Ireland) if you meet certain eligibility criteria:

  • You are an undergraduate or postgraduate student ordinarily resident in the UK and studying full-time or part-time (working to at least 50% of a full time Higher Education qualification).

There are some exceptions in regards to postgraduate study. There are also residence requirements. Contact the Disability Team if you have any doubts about your eligibility.

Evidence of your disability

You will be asked to produce evidence of your disability to determine your eligibility to apply for DSA. If you have a physical disability, sensory impairment, medical condition, illness or a mental health condition, you will be asked to provide medical evidence such as a letter or report from a medical professional (e.g. Consultant, GP or Specialist Nurse).

If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, a diagnostic report prepared by a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist assessor is required.

Making an application

This can be a lengthy process, so you should try to set things in motion as soon as you have a confirmed place to study. At any time, during this process, please contact any of our Disability Advisers, if there is anything you are unsure about. The basic steps to claiming DSA are:

  1. Inform the Disability Adviser of your intention to apply for a DSA. It is very likely that your application form will have to be countersigned prior to sending it to your funding authority.
  2. You will be required to send evidence of your disability with your application. This may mean that you require more up to date supporting documentation. If this is the case, the Disability Adviser can assist you with this.
  3. After the funding body has received this information and processed it, you will be asked arranged a Needs Assessment. This will provide the funding authority with evidence that any equipment or help requested is both necessary and appropriate to your needs. This Needs Assessment can be carried out by a DSA Assessor at an Access Centre. However, if you have a specific learning difficulty or mental health problem, the Needs Assessment can be carried out by a DSA Assessor from the University.
  4. A report from the Needs Assessment (itemising equipment, non-medical personal help and other additional support) will then be written and forwarded to your funding authority.
  5. If your application for DSA is successful, money will either be paid into your bank account, if you are a SAAS funded student, or it will be paid directly to the equipment supplier, if you are a Student Finance England, Wales or Northern Ireland funded student.
  6. You can purchase your equipment through the recommended supplier/s listed in your DSA report; although this is not essential for SAAS funded students. If you need assistance with ordering equipment, a Disability Adviser will be available to help you. If you do not purchase all of the equipment listed in your report you will have to return any money left over to your funding authority. Please be aware that you cannot use funding for equipment not purchased to subsidise purchase of a more expensive piece of equipment.
  7. The Disability Adviser will help with arrangements if you require nonmedical personal helpers (NMPH). In consultation with you, the Disability Adviser will arrange any assessment adjustments and other institutional support on your behalf.
  8. Once your equipment is received, equipment training outlined in the Needs Assessment can be carried out by the relevant training provider.
  9. SAAS funded students are required to send SAAS clear photocopies of all receipts within 6 weeks of purchasing your equipment. All students are advised to keep a copy of the original receipts for your own records.
  10. A Disability Adviser will be able to give you information, advice and guidance on the process and can help arrange loan equipment (where available) until your funding is approved.

If you wish to find out more about DSA or discuss your eligibility you can contact a Disability Adviser by emailing disability@st-andrews.ac.uk.

You will find more information on Disabled Students’ Allowance on the following websites (the University of St Andrews is not responsible for the content of external internet sites):

  • Students from Scotland, please go to the SAAS website
  • Students from England, please go to the SFE website
  • Students from Wales, please go to the SFW website
  • Students from Northern Ireland, please go to the SFNI Website

General Information on DSA is available at: