Disabled Students' Allowances - introduction
Disabled Students' Allowances provide extra financial help if you have an impairment, health condition (including mental health conditions) or a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia. They are paid on top of the standard student finance package and don't have to be repaid.
Who Disabled Students' Allowances are aimed at
Disabled Students' Allowances are grants to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability or specific learning difficulty. They are aimed at helping people with disabilities to study on an equal basis with other students.
Eligible full-time, part-time and postgraduate students can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances.
The amount you get doesn't depend on your household income. Disabled Students' Allowances are paid on top of the standard student finance package, and don't have to be paid back.
What they can be used for
Disabled Students' Allowances can help with the cost of:
- specialist equipment you need for studying - for example, computer software
- a non-medical helper, such as a note-taker or reader
- extra travel costs you have to pay because of your disability
- other costs - for example, tapes or Braille paper
You can apply if you are doing:
- a full-time course that lasts at least one year (including a distance-learning course)
- a part-time course that lasts at least one year and doesn't take more than twice as long to complete as an equivalent full-time course (this can include an Open University or other distance-learning course)
To apply for financial help through Disabled Students' Allowances, both you and your course must be eligible. It's worth checking this before you make your application.
Getting proof of your disability or specific learning difficulty
To apply, you'll have to show evidence of your disability.
If you have an impairment or a medical condition - this includes long-term illnesses and mental health conditions - you will need to provide medical proof of this, such as a letter from an appropriate medical professional.
If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, you must provide evidence in the form of a 'diagnostic assessment' from a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher. If you've had a diagnostic assessment in the past, it may need to be updated.
You'll have to meet the cost of any tests to establish your eligibility for Disabled Students' Allowances. If you need a test but cannot afford to pay for it, you may be able to get financial help through the Support Fund.
Who doesn't qualify
If you are eligible for a bursary from the Central Services Agency, you do not qualify for Disabled Students' Allowances from Student Finance NI or your local Education and Library Board, but you can apply for equivalent help through the bursary scheme.
You also don't qualify for Disabled Students' Allowances from your Education and Library Board if you're a postgraduate student getting:
- a research council bursary or award
- a social work bursary from the DHSSPS that includes equivalent support
- a bursary or award from your college or university that includes equivalent support
You should contact the provider of your bursary or award for advice on any extra support you may be entitled to because of a disability.
How much you can get
The amount of help you get through Disabled Students' Allowances is based on an assessment of your individual needs – up to the maximum allowance.
You can get more information about Disabled Students' Allowances from Student Finance NI