The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) can help you pay for some of the costs of studying. This includes equipment you might need and money for personal support, for example a Sign Language Interpreter.
You can apply for the DSA if:
- you're a student who has a disability or learning difficulty
- your course is eligible
- you're able to get SAAS funding
The DSA is not 'income-assessed', so eligibility doesn't depend on your 'household income'.
You must be studying one of these types of courses:
- Part-time undergraduate courses at HNC level, HND level or degree - if you're doing at least 50% of the length of the full-time course
- Degree or equivalent level courses
- Foundation year of a degree course - you must have enrolled for the whole course and the foundation year must be a neccessary part of the course
- Diploma or degree in nursing or midwifery - you may also be entitled to the Nursing or Midwifery Bursary
- Full-time postgraduate courses including PhDs - if you're not able to receive DSA or similar support
- Part-time postgraduate courses including PhDs - if you're doing at least 50% of the full-time course, and you're not able to receive DSA or similar funding
- Distance learning courses - if you're doing at least 50% of the length of a full-time course
- Open University courses - if you're studying at least 60 credits in a year
How to apply
SAAS will process your DSA application after they've processed your main funding application. You need to submit the main funding application at the same time or before you apply for the DSA.
To apply for the DSA you'll need to:
- download and fill in an application form
- provide evidence of your disability
- provide a 'needs assessment report' – this report is done by a professional to let SAAS know what kind of equipment you may need
- send it back to SAAS
Send your application to:
Student Awards Agency Scotland
Evidence of your disability
The first year you apply for DSA, you need to submit documents to prove your disability or learning difficulty.
If you have dyslexia or a learning difficulty, you need to submit a statement or report from 1 of the following:
- an educational psychologist or other qualified professional
- a letter from a school or college you've attended, saying that you've been diagnosed with dyslexia or learning difficulty by an educational psychologist or other qualified professional
If you have a medical condition, you need to submit evidence of your diagnosis and evidence about the impact your disability has on your studying.
You can submit evidence from a qualified medical professional including:
- nurse/psychiatric nurse
- occupational therapist
- hospital consultant
You may also be able to use documents about a disability benefit you get if:
- you were required to undertake a diagnosis to get the benefit
- the evidence states the nature of your disability and the date the diagnosis was undertaken
A letter saying that you get Disability Living Allowance or another disability related benefit is not enough.
What you'll get
The allowance is split into 3 parts:
- The basic allowance – covering items like Braille or Livescribe paper, or photocopying and printing costs
- The large items allowance – one-time only funding covering items like computers or disability-related software
- The non-medical personal help allowance – covering personal support like readers or Sign Language Interpreters
You won't need to pay the DSA back unless you can't provide proof that you have purchased the equipment you need. You must send receipts for all purchases you make with DSA money to SAAS.
What happens next
All completed DSA application forms and needs assessment reports should be processed within 21 days. If you don't receive a reply within 28 days, you should contact SAAS.
If your application is successful, SAAS will pay the allowance straight into your bank account or building society. If you have a student loan, it will be paid on top of this.
If your application is rejected you can appeal to SAAS. There's more information on the DSA application notes page about appealing the decision.
Other financial support
There may be other bursaries, grants, scholarships and sponsorships that you can apply for.
Once you've started your studies, there is support and money available to help you if you have a financial emergency at university.