Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA)
Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) are grants that help to pay for extra equipment and support that you may need as a direct result of your disability, on-going health condition, sensory impairment, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty. The entire process may take up to four months, so you need to apply as early as possible.
DSA is not available to apprenticeship learners. You may be eligible for Access to Work which you can discuss with your apprenticeship employer.
The process for applying differs depending on the UK nation you live in. Our article How to apply for Disabled Students Allowances has all the details.
Students who have received a DSA and have reached the limit of that allowance can contact the Disability Support Team to explore additional routes to support and funding available through the Open University (OU).
If you’re a non-UK resident or you're not eligible to apply for DSA, you can apply for OU support using the Disability Support Form. An adviser will discuss which equivalent OU schemes best suit your needs. For non-UK students, further details are available from Disability support for international students.
An overview of DSAs
- Funding is provided by the funding body relevant to your nation, for example Student Finance England or Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
- The allowances aren't means tested or dependent on your income or savings and won't affect your state benefits.
- You get a comprehensive assessment of your study needs.
- It could help pay for specialist equipment and assistive software, a study support helper, additional costs such as printing costs and travel costs.
- DSA supplements any adjustments made by the Open University.
- Both undergraduates and postgraduates can apply.
- As a part-time student or postgraduate you do need to apply each year.
Sharing your information with DSA funding bodies
The DSA application process requires us to share your personal information with third party funding bodies such as Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI) or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
We'll share information such as your title, name, date of birth, personal identifier, qualification, module details and academic year to confirm your registration with the Open University. This will enable the funding body to process your DSA application. During your studies we may discuss with the funding body your ongoing award and support provision to ensure you have access to the correct services to support your studies.
The information provided will be used and managed in line with the Student Privacy Notice.
How is the DSA money paid?
The allowance for specialist equipment and non-medical helpers, such as sign language interpreters and mental health mentors, is paid directly to a recommended professional agency by your funding body. You may be asked to sign and confirm you’ve received the support before the agency can submit an invoice direct to your relevant funding body for payment.
DSA can’t be used to pay for personal care such as help with washing and dressing.
Full details of how payment is made is provided by your funding body.
DSA funding for residential school
If you're attending a residential school or day school, you should contact the Disability Support Team. They'll discuss the school activity and the venue and help you identify any necessary adjustments or additional requirements, for example a specific diet, larger font materials or a non-medical helper.
DSA funds can only support compulsory study-related sessions, not optional or social events, or personal care at residential school.