At University with a Disability

Funding University Life

A pain in the neck, but necessary.

Student Finance England (SFE)

Student Finance England (SFE) or equivalent is one of the UK’s funding bodies for students. Depending on your circumstances you can get a minimum amount of living allowance of £3,410 and the maximum is £11,672. The highest amount is if you study in London, SFE calculates how much to give you depending on:

  • Where you live or study
  • Who you live with
  • Parental income if under 25
  • Household income if over 25
  • Any minors you are caring for
  • You are on one of their sponsored courses

It is a long process with a lot of form filling but is needed if you are going to study at University.

Applying to Student Finance England (SFE)

One of the initial steps that you need to do first after choosing to study at University is seeing whether you’re eligible for a student finance England (SFE) grant and filling out an online application form. Most of the questions are straight forward, but at some point, it will ask for your email (or parents’ email) and passport details. If you do not have a passport, you will need to ask a professional to vouch for you instead. This person must not be related to you, so they could be your teacher, doctor, therapist or any other professional job, and they must have known you for two years minimum.

After this, anyone under 25 will be asked about their parent’s information. It is easier if they are either married or never married, as there is another form to fill out if they are separated or divorced. 

Unfortunately, once you’ve applied for Student Finance England, it is just a case of waiting for a response from them. Months may pass before you hear anything which is why I say apply quite early to allow you breathing room in case of delays. You should get a response via post and email to tell you whether you are successful or if they need more evidence, and how much you will get. Usually, Student Finance England covers your full tuition plus the living allowance that you put towards accommodation fees.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

Those who have disabilities have the chance of applying for Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) alongside their student finance. DSA is designed to fund any extra support that may be needed at University. You, as a disabled student, will need to provide evidence that you are disabled (ridiculous I know). The evidence could be a note from your doctor or proof of a particular payment you receive as a disabled young adult. Your disability and the course you are studying will determine what level of support you will be given and the equipment and software that you are eligible for.

If you want to see if you are eligible, I would research online or ask your college or school, they should be able to advise you. Alternatively you can phone up DSA and enquire.

To apply for a disabled student allowance, you will need to fill out a separate application form from the student finance one, referencing it within this new form and provide all of your details as well as every bit of information and evidence you think is necessary and would make your application stronger. My advice here is to be as accurate and honest about exactly what your needs are and what support you would require.

I would be sure to check online or email DSA if you are not sure about any of it, it is best to double check everything as it is valuable funding if you can get it.

After submitting both the Student Finance England (SFE) and Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) forms, you will just need to wait for them to get back to you which is why again I say apply in as far advance as you can tell you time for any delays. There is nothing worse than a mad dash and panic when you’ve got other things to contend with.

Though timing is not Student Finance England’s strong suit they are efficient and thorough. You will be contacted via email and phone to provide any further evidence they may need to support your applications, particularly DSA, before approving them. If you are unsure what evidence to provide then enquire with DSA directly.

I know from experience it can be frustrating to provide such evidence, but the more you can provide the more funding you are likely to receive which can prove instrumental in your studies.

Replaying your Student Finance Loan Back

Student Finance England (SFE) does not require you to pay back your undergraduate fees until you earn over £27,250. Undergraduates pay 9% of their wages over the £27,250 threshold. If you are a postgraduate student you will not be expected to pay it back until you earn £21,000, paying 6% back.

NOTE: the same process applies when you apply for funding for your postgraduate degree but I will provide more information on later posts.


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