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Financial support for disabled students

If you're a UK or EU student research council funded student you may be eligible to apply to your funding body for a Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) grant. DSA funding could help you cover the costs of additional support, such as a non-medical helper or major items of specialist equipment.

If you think you're eligible please visit the Accessibility and Wellbeing Team at your Student Services Hub.

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 specialist 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 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, you need to find an Assessment Centre near you and book an appointment. The Cambridge Access Centre have outreach centres on the Colchester and Southend Campuses. If it's more convenient, you can search for an access centre nearer your home and book an appointment there. Book your appointment as soon as possible.

When you have booked your appointment you will need to provide the following to the Access Centre:

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

They may also ask you to complete a self-assessment document prior to the appointment.

The fee for your Assessment of Need will be deducted from your DSAs and your funding body will pay the Access Centre directly.

About the assessment

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.

If you have difficulties finding an Access Centre or booking an appointment please contact the Student Services Hub for advice.

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.

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.