Starting university is expensive. Have you considered applying for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). They can help you pay those extra costs you may have because of your ankylosing spondylitis.
What is DSA?
DSAs are grants to help pay the extra essential costs you may encounter due to your AS. They can pay for a variety of costs caused by your AS, depending on your needs, that includes: specialist equipment, non-medical helpers or extra travel.
DSAs don’t cover disability-related costs you’d have if you weren’t attending a course, or costs that any student might have. That’s why it’s important for you to think about any new essential expenses that can appear when you start Uni.
Do I qualify?
You are eligible for DSA if you meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010. That means you need to have:
A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial (more than minor) and long-term (12 months or more) negative effect on your ability to do daily activities.
You also must be an undergraduate or postgraduate student, qualify for student finance from Student Finance England and your course has to last for at least a year.
You are not eligible if you’re an EU student, eligible for an NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance or getting equivalent support from another funding source, like your university or a social work bursary.
What could I get?
The support you can get depends on your individual needs and not on your income. DSAs are paid on top of your other student finance and don’t have to be repaid. Pretty neat so far, right?
After your application and assessment is successful the money will be paid either into your bank account or directly to the organisation providing the service or equipment.
Full-time and part-time undergraduate students can get up to £5,358 for equipment (for the whole course), up to £21,305 for non-medical help (a year) and up to £1,790 for extra travel (a year). Bear in mind this amounts are the maximum you can get. It’s aimed at supporting those with a high level of need, so most people get less.
Application and assesment.
You should apply for DSAs as early as possible and there is no need to wait until your course has been confirmed.
Once your eligibility for DSAs is confirmed, Student Finance England (SFE) may ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need, but don’t book this until SFE asks you to. A Study Needs Assessment is an informal meeting with a Needs Assessor to discuss what equipment and support they can provide to help you during your time at school.
After the assessment, you’ll get a report listing equipment and other support you can get for your course.
You won’t be reimbursed for any equipment bought before the assessment so it might be a good idea to wait with the shopping until you’ve been assessed.
You can find more details on DSA and the application process here.