Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) can pay for extra help when you’re on a UK higher education course. If you’re eligible it can be worth thousands of pounds to cover the cost of specialist hardware and software, as well as various learning support such as having a personal helper in lectures, extra time in exams or travelling expenses.
You don’t have to be registered disabled to claim
DSAs can support students with an impairment or condition which affects their ability to complete their studies. It covers all sorts of conditions, from ADHD and dyslexia to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Migraines and Tinnitus, you can claim it any time on your course and you don’t have to pay it back - it’s a grant not a loan.
DSAs can make the difference between success and failure in higher education, so why do figures from 2013/14 suggest that at least 50% of the people who are eligible for DSAs don’t claim?
"I’ve never heard of them"
Many people don’t know what DSAs are, who is eligible or how to claim. Ideally you’ll hear about them during your University application process, or from advisers in your school or college, but many of them haven't heard of it eiether, or don't realise who can claim, so many people who are eligible just don’t know it’s there.
“But I’m not disabled..."
Some people may think you need to be in a wheelchair to be disabled, or they don’t realise that DSAs can cover conditions such as dyslexia or IBS. They don’t think of themself as disabled, so don’t connect with the name.
"Other people are more deserving than me"
Some may feel that other people are far more deserving, so don’t claim. However the support available is not a set/guaranteed amount for each person, and is tailored to the individual
“How is a laptop or extra gadgets going to help me?"
DSAs often fund computer equipment or software, but for many people it isn't the equipment that makes the big difference. Someone with dyslexia may benefit from extra time in exams, or someone with a chronic back condition may need small changes to their timetable, or permission to avoid carrying heavy books around. The extra support and changes to your study patterns can have a huge impact on your ability to achieve your full potential.
"I’m too embarrassed to ask for help"
Many people will worry that asking for DSAs will reveal a personal issue they want to keep to themselves. The process for DSA is entirely confidential and no personal details need to be revealed to the University if you do not wish.
Asking for help can be tough, or seen as sign of weakness. It may mean that you have to admit to difficulties that have dogged you for many years. The big plus is that if you get DSAs you will finally get the extra help you need and can really begin to shine.
Find out more on our site about who is eligible and how to apply