Financial help for higher education

The Disabled Student's Allowance is intended to assist students with disabilities in higher education to benefit as fully as possible from their course. They are processed by Student Finance England and further information is available at Financial help for disabled students

Special equipment allowance

This allowance covers major items of equipment, the need for which arises from a disability, and which are necessary to enable a student to benefit fully from the course.

It is payable at any time during the course, by one or more instalments, provided that the aggregated total of the payments does not exceed the maximum prescribed limit for the course. If it is more economical, items of equipment should be leased rather than purchased, especially if the claim is made during the latter stages of the course.

Disabled students may find AbilityNet of use and interest. It provides impartial, expert advice about computer technology for people with disabilities.

Non-medical personal helper's allowance

This allowance reimburses students up to a maximum amount per annum for expenditure on personal helpers such as readers, lip speakers, note takers, non-medical carers, necessary for the student to benefit fully from the course.

The authority must be satisfied that the expenses are in respect the student's disability, and arise as a direct consequence of attendance on the course. The provision of these allowances does not remove the duty of local Social Services to provide assistance towards personal care costs which would have been incurred irrespective of a student's attendance on a course.

General disability allowance

This allowance also has a maximum amount per annum and provides for supplementary payments for disability related expenditure incurred because of attendance on the course.  The allowance may be used for miscellaneous expenditure not covered by the specific allowances and to supplement expenditure on non-medical helpers and/or special equipment in excess of the maxima of the specific allowances.

Travel for disabled students

Reimbursement of travel expenses may also be claimed if, by reason of your disability, you incur additional expenditure. You will be asked to show how your disability incurs additional cost, and to provide medical evidence if necessary.

Notes on claiming a disabled students' allowance

  1. Although they form part of Student Support in Higher Education, these allowances are not means-tested.
  2. Items purchased under this provision become your own property.  If you withdraw from your course prematurely, however, you may be asked to repay part of the cost.
  3. Payment can be considered only for costs arising from attendance and from the disability - not for expenditure which would have been incurred irrespective of whether you were a student.
  4. We strongly recommend that suitable insurance is obtained.  In the case of theft or damage (however caused) we will not contribute towards the cost of repairs or replacement. Reasonable insurance cover may be reimbursed under the Special Equipment Allowance. For a small cost, it may be possible to add this equipment to your own or your parent's all risks/extra cover home insurance policy.
  5. If you would like to apply for a DSA, you must first provide medical evidence of your disability, usually a letter from your doctor or specialist. If you have a specific learning difficulty or dyslexia, you will need to provide an educational psychologist's report undertaken since the age of 16. Please note that you are responsible for any cost incurred in providing evidence of your disability.

In the meantime, you may wish to contact your university or college disability officer who will be able to assist with your application and offer you further advice and support.

Further information about Disabled Students Allowance and Student Finance see GOV.UK: Student Finance