Guide to Accessing DSA Support

Once you have had the needs assessment you then have to arrange to get the support that was agreed. 

The following guide takes you through the different steps involved. 

The needs assessment report

After your needs assessment, the assessor will write a report to recommend funding from the Disabled Students Allowance for the support that has been agreed. This is sent to your funding body who then decide if the funding can be approved for each of the items recommended. Usually, all recommendations are approved, but funding bodies can query any recommendations they feel are not fully justified or do not meet the funding guidelines.

If this happens, the funding body will inform the assessor, who may then provide additional justification or evidence in order to try and get the recommendation agreed, or accept that it will not be funded.

Once an agreement between assessor and funding body has been reached, or (more usually) if all recommendations were agreed without any queries, the funding body send you written confirmation to inform you that the funding has been approved and outline how to access the support.

Ordering your equipment

Your needs assessment report will contain several quotes from different companies for the equipment that is being recommended. These companies are specialist suppliers who have been authorised to supply equipment through the Disabled Students Allowance and, if your funding body is Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales, you will be specifically told which of these companies to order your equipment from. 

If you are funded by the Student Award Agency Scotland or the NHS you can purchase equipment from anywhere but have to provide evidence that you have used the funding to buy the specific equipment that has been approved.

Research Council funded is administered through your University’s Disability Service, and so you will need to contact them directly to see what process they follow.

Generally, it makes sense to order from a specialist supplier – most allow you to place the order through their website (see links below) by simply uploading the confirmation letter from your funding body which approves your funding. The supplier will then contact you directly to arrange delivery.

If, however, you have funding approved toward the cost of a new computer, read the section below to see the different options that apply. 

Purchasing a computer

If you have been recommended funding toward the cost of a new computer, there is a provision within the funding that allows you to ‘upgrade’ the recommended computer to a different make or model as long as you are prepared to pay any additional cost that this incurs. This is in on top of the £200 contribution that students funded by Student Finance England, the NHS or a Research Council are required to pay.

If you wish to pay a bit extra to get a better computer (and we’d recommend it if possible), you can then choose to either order the computer with any other equipment through the approved specialist supplier, or purchase from an alternative source of your choosing.

Option 1 – Order from the specialist supplier:
  • You pay your contribution to the supplier and they invoice the funding body for the remainder of the cost. There is therefore less upfront cost for you.
  • The specialist supplier will install the recommended software on to the computer and ensure that it is connected to any additional peripheral equipment, such as a printer.
  • The specialist supplier provide full maintenance support for all equipment for the duration of your course so you have one company to contact if you have any technical problems.
  • Generally, computers purchased the specialist suppliers do not attract VAT and so can be 20% cheaper than if bought from elsewhere.
Option 2 – Order from an alternative supplier:
  • You pay the full amount for the computer and then claim back the funding body’s contribution. There is therefore more of an upfront cost for you.
  • You should also ensure that you purchase a warranty that covers the computer for the duration of your course. You can claim this cost back, but does mean more money that you have to spend initially.
  • You will also have to install the recommended software yourself and set it up with any peripheral devices that you will be using.
  • However, you may be able to get a better deal by shopping around and so find that this is a cheaper option.
  • If you want a very specific computer, you may also find that the specialist suppliers cannot supply it.
  • If you are considered upgrading to an Apple Mac computer, you may be able to take advantage of the Apple GiveBack option and student discount by purchasing directly from Apple.
Overall, our advice would be to do some research after your needs assessment to find out what sort of computer you’d like and how much you should be expecting to pay. Once the funding has been approved, contact the specialist supplier to find out how much they would charge for the computer you have chosen and then weigh up what the best option would be.

Arranging non-medical helper support​

This is much more simple. If you have been recommended any non-medical helper support (such as specialist study skills support, specialist mentoring or assistive technology training), the letter from the funding body which confirms your funding will state who to contact to arrange this. This can be your University’s Disability Service as many provide their own non-medical helper support, but may be an external provider. 

Claiming back general allowances

You may have been recommended funding toward some  general costs such as printing costs. In these cases you keep receipts for whatever item you can claim back and send these to your funding body. They will then arrange for the cost to be reimbursed, up to a maximum amount per academic year. This amount will be specified in your needs assessment report and funding confirmation letter.

How to apply

Mileage allowance

 If this has been recommended (and approved) you will be able to claim 24p per mile for any journeys to and from your place of study. Most funding bodies will require you to send a breakdown of the journeys to claim this cost back, rather than submit receipts for fuel.

Taxi allowance (on account)

If you have been approved for taxi journeys to and from your place of study and it has been estimated that more than 30 journeys per academic year will be needed, your funding body may set up an account with a taxi company. You then order the taxis through the specified company, who invoice your funding body for the cost.

Only the journeys specified in your funding confirmation letter will be eligible (usually to and from your place of study) and there will also be a maximum number of journeys per academic year that you will be able to take. For journeys over a mile, you will also be required to pay a contribution to the taxi company that covers the equivalent cost of the journey if travelling by public transport. This will also be detailed in your funding confirmation letter.

Taxi allowance (ad hoc)

 If you have been approved for taxi journeys to and from your place of study and it has been estimated that less than 30 journeys per academic year will be needed, you would then order a taxi as needed, pay for the cost yourself and then send receipts to your funding body for them to reimburse.

For journeys over a mile, they will reimburse the cost of the taxi minus  the equivalent cost of the journey if travelling by public transport. This will be detailed in your funding confirmation letter.