Step-by-Step Guide for New Applicants

The government guide to DSA can be found here.

Step 1: Getting the Evidence

In order to qualify for the Disabled Students’ Allowances, you MUST provide medical evidence of your disability. This could be a medical report, doctor’s letter or, in the case of a specific learning difficulty, an educational psychologist’s report (the guidelines for DSA eligibility can be found here, on

The DSA CANNOT be used to pay for this; you will be responsible for the cost of obtaining this evidence, although if you have a specific learning difficulty your University or College MAY assist with the cost of obtaining an up-to-date report from an educational psychologist.

Step 2: Filling in the Forms

  • If you are a full-time undergraduate and your funding body is Student Finance England and you have a student loan:
    Fill in a Short – DSA1 form (PDF).
  • If your funding body is Student Finance England and you do not have a student loan or if you are a part-time undergraduate / full or part-time post-graduate student you need to complete the long form and reapply each year:
    Fill in a Long – DSA1 form (PDF).
  • Send the completed form to Student Finance England. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your application for yourself, and to send the funding body’s copy by registered post.
  • If you are studying with the Open University, you need to fill in their own DSA Application Form. More information can be found on their website.
  • Research Council students, students on NHS Funded Courses or Social Work Courses should contact a Disability Adviser for advice.

Step 3: Book a Study Needs Assessment appointment

Your funding body will write to let you know whether you are eligible for DSA. If you are eligible, the letter will ask you to contact a DSA-QAG Accredited Centre, such as Access SUMMIT, for a DSA Study Needs Assessment. The centre will invoice your funding body directly – you will not be charged at all for this assessment..

You can arrange an appointment by calling us on 0161 275 0990 – we will then send you a copy of the Assessment Referral Form. A range of other contact methods is also available if you don’t feel like phoning us.

Step 4: Attend the Study Needs Assessment appointment

Assessments are fairly informal meetings and nothing to be concerned about – they do not entail further testing.

You will discuss the impact of your disability or specific learning difficulty on your experience of study with a Needs Assessor, who will suggest strategies to help you to get the most from your course. If appropriate, you may have the opportunity to trial different kinds of assistive technology resources, ranging from ergonomic supports to specialist supportive software.

In addition, other support strategies, such as assistance with additional travel costs and the use of human support, may be explored.

Step 5: The DSA Needs Assessment Report

After the assessment, your Assessor will produce a DSA Study Needs Assessment report outlining your needs and recommended support and resources. You should receive a copy of this report within 10 working days; unless you have asked to see a draft copy first, a copy will go to your funding body at the same time.

With your permission we will also send a copy to the Disability Adviser at your institution; this will help with the effective implementation of the support and resources recommended.

Step 6: Putting the support in place

Your funding body will contact you if they accept your assessor’s recommendations, and explain how to go about obtaining the support and resources recommended. For instance, if specialist equipment has been recommended they will usually order this directly from the supplier, who will contact you to arrange delivery. However, some funding bodies prefer to pay money directly into your bank account, in which case you will need to order the equipment yourself.

Non-medical helpers support, such as study coaching or note taking, can often be arranged directly through your institution. Your disability adviser should be able to help with this.

For other kinds of support, such as travel assistance or photocopying expenses, you may need to send receipts to your funding body for reimbursement.