Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is really important for helping disabled students access support at university to put them on a level playing field with their non-disabled peers. The first thing to know is that there are three stages to the application process:
You may be able to collect the form from your college/sixth form careers advisor/SEN department. If not the application form can be downloaded from www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms.
2. Needs assessment
This is where you discuss with your needs assessor what support you feel will be beneficial for you at university. Together you then draw up a plan. Don’t worry if you are not sure what support you require; the needs assessor will be able to help you identify what you need support with and suggest a variety of options.
You will receive an entitlement letter from student finance confirming what support you will receive. Your university’s disability service will then work with you to organise and implement this support. An important point to note is that DSA is split into three components:
Specialist equipment allowance – provides funding for assistive software such as Dragon naturally speaking software.
Non-medical helper allowance- such as study skills support.
General allowance-contributes towards support such as travel costs.
My three top tips when applying for DSA are:
Complete the application form as soon as possible; ideally before you start university.
Do research before your needs assessment.
Bring a notepad, pen, and someone along with you to the appointment.