Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

Disabled students can apply for DSA to pay for any extra study-related costs incurred at University due to a disability.


Types of support you can get

DSA can help with the costs of:

  • travel to and from University 
  • specialist equipment you need for studying (eg digital recorders or computers and assistive software)
  • support workers (eg specialist study skills tutors, support and guidance mentors or sign language interpreters)


You can apply for DSA if you can provide written evidence that you’re a disabled person according to the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability and:

  • are studying a full or part-time undergraduate or postgraduate course*; and
  • are a UK national who is ordinarily resident in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of your course (ie this is where you usually live apart from occasional absences, eg holidays); and 
  • have been living in the UK for three years prior to your course start date, and not solely for the purpose of getting full-time education; or
  • have acquired settled status to live permanently in the UK without time restrictions imposed by the Home Office

*If you started a part-time course on or after September 1 2012, you must be undertaking your course at a rate of at least 25% of the full-time equivalent. This usually means taking at least 30 credits per academic year.

How to apply

Step 1: Submit application to relevant funding body

You can submit your DSA application any time after you’ve applied to study on your course. You must submit an application to the funding body you’re eligible to claim student finance (ie a student loan or bursary) from.

As part of your application you must submit written evidence confirming the nature and impact of your disability. The page below explains what evidence you need and how to obtain it.

Providing evidence that you’re disabled

 Click on the relevant funding body to find out how to apply:

Student Finance England

You can apply for DSA online through Student Finance England (SFE) if: 

  • you’re a full time student
  • you’ve applied / intend to apply for Student Finance England
  • you have an online student finance account

Apply through your online SFE account If you’re a part-time student or you don’t have an online student finance account, you can apply for DSA using their paper application form:

Apply using paper form

Student Finance Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland

Visit the relevant page below for information on how to apply for DSA.

NHS funding 

If you’re eligible for NHS funding (eg you’re a medicine or dentistry student), you can apply for DSA through your Bursary Online Support System (BOSS) account. 

If you don’t have a BOSS account you must open one before you can apply for DSA  to prove that you’re eligible for NHS funding.

More information on NHS bursaries

Postgraduate social work bursary 

To apply for DSA you must complete: 

  • the bursary application form (to prove you’re eligible for Social Work Bursary funding)
  • the Social Work Bursary DSA application form

For more information, visit: 

Social Work: Apply for a postgraduate bursary

Postgraduate Research Council funding

If you’re a postgraduate research student and you receive Research Council funding, you may be eligible for DSA funding through your individual research council

If you’re eligible, contact us and we’ll make the application for DSA on your behalf: disability.info@sheffield.ac.uk

Step 2: Attend an 'assessment of need'

If your funding body has deemed you eligible for DSA, they’ll ask you to attend an ‘assessment of need’ appointment. The needs assessment aims to identify barriers to learning you encounter and identify support that could help. A report summarising the support that you agree it would be useful to have access to will then be sent to your funding body.

For students applying for DSA from either Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales you will be allocated one of two suppliers - either Capita or Study Tech. 

If you apply for DSA before you start your course:

Your supplier will be allocated based on the contact address you provide, this could be either Capita or Study Tech depending on your location.

You can view which supplier supports your region here.

If you apply for DSA after you start your course:

Your supplier will be allocated based on the University of Sheffield’s address. This means your supplier will be Study Tech.  

If you are a distance learner:

Your supplier will be allocated based on the contact address you provide, this could be either Capita or Study Tech depending on your location.

You can view which supplier supports your region here.

If you have any questions about this step, contact us at disability.info@sheffield.ac.uk.

Step 3: Set up your support

1. After your meeting, the assessor will draft a ‘needs assessment report’ which will recommend your individual DSA-funded package of support.
2. If you’re happy with the report, you’ll then sign it and copies will be sent to us and your funding body.
3. Your funding body will review the report and send you a letter confirming the support they’ll provide funding for. We’ll also be sent a copy.

Your confirmation letter will inform you how to order equipment and arrange training. Some support, such as referrals for support workers, must be arranged through us.

4. When we receive confirmation of your DSA funding entitlement, we’ll email you to arrange a meeting with a disability advisor to discuss the
support you’ve received funding for, and set it up.

If you receive your funding letter before you start your course, contact us at disability.info@sheffield.ac.uk so we can advise you on what to do next.