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Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are paid by Student Finance England to UK (and some EU) postgraduate students who can show that they have a disability, medical condition or specific learning difficulty which affects their ability to study. (If you are unsure whether your disability, medical condition or learning difference qualifies for the DSA, please ask Student Support).

What is the DSA?

The DSA is funding for extra costs you may incur in attending your course as a direct result of your disability.

For full-time and part-time postgraduate students, there is one allowance of up to £10,652 per year, which can cover specifc specialist equipment, study skills support, travel and other course-related costs.

The amount of DSA you receive will depend on a Needs Assessment (see below).

Who Is Eligible?

You can apply if you attend a recognised taught or research postgraduate course and meet the eligibility criteria. Broadly speaking, you need to be a UK national, but some EU nationals also qualify. The Student Adviser for Disability and Wellbeing can give you advice about your eligibility.

All the programmes offered at the Royal College of Art are recognised programmes.

Previous Support

If you had DSA funding during your undergraduate course, you should still be eligible to apply for the DSA now that you are at the Royal College of Art. However, Student Finance England will take into consideration any specialist equipment that you received from the DSA recently.

How Do I Apply?

If you are living in England you should apply to Student Finance England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you should apply to the funding body for the country that you are in. Contact details are given at the bottom of this page.

You must complete the DSA1 'full form' application. You can get a form from the Student Support Office or you can download it from the GOV.UK website.

You need to provide recent evidence of your disability, long-term health condition or specific learning difficulty. For example, a doctor's letter or a dyslexia report.

If you bring your completed application and evidence to the Student Support Office, we can send it on your behalf.

Needs Assessment

If you are eligible for the DSA, you will then be referred for a Needs Assessment. This will determine the exact help you need to help you with your course. The Needs Assessment will be carried out by a specialist at an assessment centre.

The Needs Assessment will recommend the sort of equipment and other support you need, how much it costs and where you can get it from. It will also identify any training you might need, to make best use of the equipment recommended.

When Should I Apply?

The whole DSA process can take some time so it is a good idea to apply at the earliest opportunity. If you accept an offer of a place at the Royal College of Art and think that you will be eligible to apply for a DSA, then you can do so any time from the April before you start.

Can I Keep my Equipment After I Graduate?

All equipment bought for you with the DSA is your property. You can keep this equipment after you graduate.

What Happens if I Leave my Programme Early?

Student Finance England may recover some or all of your DSA if you leave your programme. They should only ask you to return money you have received for support that you have not yet bought or used.

More Information


Skill: the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities

National Network of Assessment Centres (NNAC)

Student Finance England

Student Finance Wales

Student Awards Agency for Scotland

Department for Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland) (DELNI)

Study in UK


Shaalinie Sivalingham 

Student Adviser for Disability and Wellbeing 

+44 (0)20 7590 4140

[email protected]





Student Finance England

Student Finance Wales

Student Awards Agency for Scotland


"The whole DSA process can take some time so it is a good idea to apply at the earliest opportunity."