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Financial support for disabled students

If you're a UK student you may be eligible to apply to your funding body for a Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) grant. Disabled Students' Allowances is for full-time and part-time undergraduates and postgraduates and is not means tested.

DSA funding could help you cover the costs of additional support, such as a non-medical helper or major items of specialist equipment.

How to apply

If you would like to disclose a disability, long-term medical condition or specific learning difficulty then contact your Student Services Hub during our opening hours where you can arrange an appointment to speak with a disability adviser about the support options available to you.

If you have supporting evidence of your disability or diagnosis please bring this with you. If you will have difficulties coming in during opening times please email us:

During your initial conversation with an adviser (and if you're eligible) you'll be given information on how to apply for DSA.

In order to get Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), you need to apply to your funding body.

If you are a self-funded postgraduate student, then apply to Student Finance England. There are certain criteria you need to meet in order to apply to Student Finance England - the government website has more information.

You can do this before you start your course or as a current student:

Our disability advisers can provide advice on how to complete the form if required and can also advise on obtaining evidence if applicable.

If you're eligible for DSA and your funding body has asked you to book an Assessment of Need, we can arrange an appointment for you at our Colchester or Southend Campuses. If you study at Loughton we can help you make an appointment.

If it's more convenient, you can search for an access centre nearer your home and book an appointment there.

Contact our team in Colchester to arrange an assessment

We can usually offer an appointment within 1 - 2 weeks and we'll ask you to supply a:

  • copy of your evidence
  • copy of the letter from your funding body confirming your need for an assessment

You will also be asked to complete and submit the self-evaluation form:

About the assessment

Assessments are done in partnership with Cambridge Access Centre at an access centre so that a qualified assessor can make the right recommendations for support for your needs.

Students are often anxious about the assessment process, please don’t be! This is not a test or an examination, it is a meeting with a friendly and knowledgeable assessor who will identify useful study strategies to help you deal effectively with the curriculum in light of your disability.

They will be able to introduce and demonstrate to you, a range of equipment and adaptive computing hardware and software. You will have the opportunity to discuss any particular difficulties you have accessing your course.

The assessor will write all their recommendations for support in a report which will include quotes from suppliers of specialist equipment. A copy of the report will be sent to you and your funding body (usually within ten working days) and, with your permission, the University.

Once approved, your funding body should then contact you. How long this takes depends on the time of year and how busy they are. If you don't hear within four weeks, we recommend you contact them to check on the progress of your application. They will confirm the recommendations they have approved and advise you how to order equipment and arrange support.

The letter from your funding body should give you the contact details so you can contact equipment or support suppliers.

If you have any questions, please contact your Student Services Hub.

Once your equipment has arrived, contact the trainer in your Study Needs Assessment report to arrange training. If you need any help with this then please visit your Student Services Hub and speak to an adviser.

Key DSA changes for 2016-17

The Government has reviewed these allowances and some changes are being put in place for the academic year 2016-17. Please check with your relevant funding body for the most up-to-date information.

  • If you're a new 2016-17 student, funding for a computer will be by exception only and you'll have to pay £200 towards it. The Needs Assessor will be able to give you more information about this.
  • For new and continuing students in 2016-17, Student Finance England is only able to accept recommendations from Needs Assessors.
  • For new students from 2016-17, if the Needs Assessor recommends non-medical help, this will be provided from a list of providers registered with DSA – QAG (Disabled Students' Allowance - Quality Assurance Group).
  • DSA funding will be provided for Band 1 (Support Assistants) or Band 2 (Enhanced Support Assistants) by exception only.

You're a new student if you apply for DSA for the first time in 2016-17 or are starting a new course where there has been a gap of five months or more since your last course. You're a continuing student if you're still receiving DSA for the same course.

Other funding sources

Anybody, including international and part-time students, with physical or sensory impairments can apply for a Snowdon Trust grant to provide equipment and support that cannot be funded from other sources.

International students

Disabled Students' Allowance is only available for UK students who meet certain residence conditions. Students from other EU countries or overseas are not eligible to apply. If this applies to you, you should contact us to discuss funding.

Related information

Student Services Hub

Lecturer and student

Our team of advisers are based within your Student Services Hub and can provide information, advice and guidance on a range of topics from accommodation and funding to exam stress and wellbeing. Drop us a line or pay us a visit.

Academic support

Students in library

Once you are registered with the Student Services Hub, we can help to put in place support and arrangements for your day to day studies and exams. Find out what academic and learning support you could be eligible to receive.

Your liaison officer

Student and adviser

Your department's Departmental Disability Liaison Officer can advise you about the support services at Essex as well as acting as a link between you and the Student Services Hub.

Money matters

Students working on laptop

Most students have to live on a low income and this can be challenging. Find out what you can do to look after your finances and manage your money, including budgeting, working while you're study and managing debt.