Funding for disabled students

If you're a student affected by a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty you can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances.

The Allowances can pay for additional support that you might need so that you can study on an equal basis with non-disabled students.

Disabled Students' Allowances

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) is a non-means tested payment. The amount you'll receive depends on the type of help you need.

What type of support is funded by Disabled Students' Allowances?

There are four types of support with four different allowances:

  1. Equipment allowance for specialist supportive equipment and assistive technology, for example computer software, ergonomic aids.
  2. Non-medical helper allowance to pay for support services, for example note-takers, dyslexia support tutors.
  3. Travel allowance to cover additional travel expenses due to disability and studying.
  4. General allowance for small, ongoing additional expenses that you might have because of your disability, for example extra printer paper or photocopying.

    What can't Disabled Students' Allowances be used for?

    You can't use Disabled Students' Allowances to pay for:

    • something that you would still need if you weren’t studying
    • anything a non-disabled student would be expected to buy, for example core text books or personal support for daily tasks
    • anything that is considered to be "treatment".

    Find out how much Disabled Students' Allowances is available to you.

    Who provides Disabled Students' Allowances?

    Disabled Students' Allowances is usually provided by whoever is giving you your course funding.

    If you're eligible for a student loan or fees through Student Finance England (or equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) you should apply directly to them.

    If you're receiving an NHS bursary, apply to the NHS Student Bursary Scheme.

    If you're funded by a research council, apply directly to the council.

    If you’re not receiving any funding from an organisation, apply to Student Finance England or your own UK student loan/grants body.


    1. Establish personal eligibility by meeting the residency criteria and providing documentary evidence of your disability.
    2. Establish your course and university are eligible. Most higher education courses run through colleges and universities are eligible.

    Other eligibility points to be bear in mind are that:

    • if you're an international student you can't claim Disabled Students' Allowances
    • if you're a part-time student you are eligible provided the course is at least one year and doesn't take more than four times as long to complete as an equivalent full-time course
    • if you are a postgraduate student you can also get Disabled Students' Allowances from your general funding provider or from Student Finance England if you aren't eligible to receive Disabled Students' Allowances from any other provider.

    Applying for Disabled Students' Allowances

    If you’re an undergraduate and you marked on your student loans application form that you wanted to apply for Disabled Students' Allowances you should automatically be sent a DSA1 application form. This will already have some sections completed using information from your loans application.

    If you aren't applying for a loan, or haven’t indicated on the loan form that you want to apply for Disabled Students' Allowances, then you can get a full DSA1 form from Student Finance England.

    You'll have to submit a completed DSA1 form to Student Finance England along with some evidence of disability. Student Finance England will send you a letter to confirm your eligibility. If you're eligible, they'll ask you to arrange a needs assessment. You may wish to use the Leeds Assessment Centre to carry out the needs assessment.

    Other funding bodies have different forms and procedures, so you should contact them for advice.

    Acceptable evidence of disability

    For the majority of disabilities a letter from your doctor, consultant or other medical practitioner is usually acceptable. Ideally this should:

    • be on official headed paper, providing standard contact and organisational information
    • be as up to date as possible - but, if it is very clearly a long-term condition, this is not vital
    • clearly diagnose you with a condition that is likely to affect your ability to do everyday, or academic, tasks
    • clearly state that your condition is long term, for example has lasted for at least 12 months, or is likely to last for 12 months.

    If you have a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), such as dyslexia or dyspraxia you'll need a full psychological diagnostic assessment produced after you were 16 years old by a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher.

    Funding for international disabled students and students on non-degree courses

    Most international students and students on very short courses (for example, single modules) won't be eligible for Disabled Students' Allowances. In these circumstances, we advise you to contact the Disability team as soon as possible to discuss the support and funding you may need while studying at Leeds.

    In some cases, you may be eligible for other sources of funding for your disability support, such as the University's Access to Learning Fund or funding from external organisations, such as the Snowdon Trust. We can provide you with further advice on whether you're eligible and how to apply.