When you start your student journey you will soon figure out that it’s not as easy as you first thought. This isn’t your fault and sometimes it’s because of circumstances that you just can’t control and have no ability to change. I myself was struggling with mental health conditions and dyslexia through my student journey as an undergrad and am still while taking on my master’s degree.
One thing that I found when becoming a student is that you have to seek out the help you need, it won’t come to you and people aren’t going to happily hand over equipment, money or their time to help you through university. It’s a horrible fact to find out but it’s 110% true. You’ll get the odd gem amongst the garbage but that’s about it.
While studying for my undergraduate degree it took me almost a year to get the help I needed and I wish I’d started the process sooner. That’s why I want to talk about DSA for students and getting student disability help generally no matter your condition because everyone is unique and have different needs.
What Is Student DSA?
DSA – Disabled Students’ Allowance is something that you can apply for while at university to get help if you fall under certain criteria. It is awarded if a student suffers from mental health problems, long term illness or any other disabilities that affect their studies in any way.
The amount that a student gets will depend on how their issue affects them on a daily basis and how it has an impact on their studies. I will point out that the figures shown on the Gov.uk website are very generous and most students won’t get close to the numbers they display so don’t get any hopes up regarding them and take everything with a handful (not a pinch) of salt!
The great thing about DSA, unlike other grants you can get, is that the type of support and how much you get depends on your individual needs and not your household income. You also don’t have to pay it back which is great, you won’t have that added stress!
If you’re applying for DSA, don’t forget to look for the best student bank accounts to have it paid into!
How To Apply For Disabled Students’ Allowance
All the steps are laid out on the GOV website and are pretty easy to follow. Throughout the process, if there’s anything important or something you think you’ll need to remember, make notes. When applying for DSA you will need a student finance account as the website takes you to the student finance website.
You’ll be able to find a PDF through student finance which is a pain to fill out but worth it if you get even a little help. It is 29 pages long, thankfully half of it probably won’t apply to you and you’ll be able to whizz through it. If you’re not good at filling out forms (like myself) ask someone else for help.
You will need to send the form to your university of choice as there is a section that they need to fill out, this is the tricky part. As I said before, people aren’t bending over backwards to help you out which means it’s going to require you doing some chasing and emailing a lot!
When you finally do send the forms back to the correct people after filling it out yourself and managing to get someone at the university to fill it out, it can take 6 weeks before you even hear anything back. They might also ask you to provide additional information relating to your issues so that they can “prove” you’re telling the truth basically.
Will I Qualify For DSA?
I know a lot of people that say, “I won’t get it because I only have this wrong with me”. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, you should apply. The worst they can say is no and you’ve not lost anything other than a little bit of time and effort, but if you do get something, it’s worth it.
Disabled Students’ Allowance Eligibility Criteria.
You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if you have a disability that affects your studies, these can be;
- learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ADHD
- mental health conditions
- physical disabilities
- long-term health conditions, such as cancer, chronic heart disease, or HIV
You have to also be:
- be an undergraduate or postgraduate student, (this includes OU)
- qualify for student finance from Student Finance England
- be studying on a full-time or part-time course with the duration of at least one year
You aren’t able to get DSA if you’re:
- EU student
- If you’re eligible for an NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance (this is a separate scheme)
- Are getting equivalent support from another funding source, like from your university or social work bursary
Study Needs Assessment
If you’re successful in your DSA claim then you will have to attend a study needs assessment. You only need to book a needs assessment if Student Finance England tells you to. You can review your report before it’s sent to Student Finance England. I would always suggest doing this in case something has been put down that you disagree with or something has been left out, at the end of the day it’s your life and your studies. If you choose to do this, you’ll receive your report within five working days of your assessment.
After you contact the assessment centre:
- They will confirm your booking within one working day
- The appointment should take place within 15 working days
- Student Finance England should receive the final report within ten working days, if you don’t hear back after a month I’d contact them.