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Funding postgraduate study: Disability-related funding

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As a disabled student you may be eligible for additional financial aid to help cover disability-related course costs...

If you are a UK-based student and have disability-related course costs in your postgraduate study, then you may be eligible for support through the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) scheme. Master's programmes, PhD courses, the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and postgraduate diplomas all qualify as postgraduate study when claiming DSA.

What is DSA?

DSAs are grants, available from Student Finance, to help students who are disabled or have long-term medical conditions, mental health conditions or specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. You may need extra financial support with your studies due to your impairment and DSA grants may help with the cost of specialist equipment, non-medical helpers and additional travel costs.

You can only apply if you are a postgraduate student studying full time for a minimum of one year. Part-time students are also eligible, although your course intensity can affect how much funding you receive. You can check this with your chosen institution.

You are not eligible for DSA if:

  • you are already receiving NHS Disabled Students Allowance;
  • already receiving equivalent support from another funding source- such as your university;
  • you are an EU or overseas student- although it is worth contacting your university as many provide similar support.

DSAs cannot be used to pay fees or living costs.

What am I entitled to?

Postgraduate DSAs are not 'means' tested, meaning that your income, background and savings will not be taken into account when determining how much you will receive. Instead, a 'needs assessment' will be carried out to decide what help you need.

Photo: Woman behind a book

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the maximum amount for 2014/15 is £10,362 per year, which covers all costs. Postgraduate DSAs are assessed and processed by:

Students from Northern Ireland will need to contact their local Education and Library Board (ELB). Search for your local ELB at Student Finance Northern Ireland . In Scotland the allowance amount is dependent on your needs assessment and subsequent requirements. Allowances in Scotland are provided by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) .

The application process can take up to three months to complete. If your application is turned down you can appeal and ask for your case to be reviewed.

The money is either paid into your bank account or directly to the organisation providing support. DSAs are paid on top of your other student finance and don't have to be repaid.

Postgraduate research (PhD) students who are funded by one of the seven Research Councils can also apply for disability-related support. These allowances are not the same as the postgraduate DSAs available through Student Finance, despite being called by the same name.

Application processes and the amount awarded may vary as the Research Councils do not have set rates for DSAs. If you receive a Research Council award for course fees and/or maintenance, you can only receive DSA funding from that Research Council. For more details see Research Councils UK - Funding for Research Training .

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
September 2014

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