We are Contact Associates, part of Capita plc, an independent company working with the Student Loans Company (SLC) to carry out Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) study needs assessments and to provide assistive technology equipment and training, supporting you to thrive in higher education.

Disabled Students’ Allowance is a non-means-tested financial support for students in higher education. It covers the study-related costs you may have because of a mental health condition, long-term illness or other disability. Support could include specialist technology, equipment and training. It can also be used to pay for non-medical help, such as specialist mentoring or specialist study skills support, and travel.

We’ll take you through the process, from carrying out your study needs assessment and recommending support, to delivering your equipment and providing training. Our specially-trained assessors will carry out a professional assessment, making it clear what you can expect from us and what you need to do in return. We’ll do our best to make our service easy to use and we’ll listen to you and make sure you feel comfortable.

We provide support for Student Finance England (SFE) and Student Finance Wales (SFW) students in: Wales, the Midlands, London, the East of England and Northern Ireland. If you live outside of these regions, please contact Student Finance in the first instance.

Application process

Our process is designed to be simple, convenient, and efficient. You can easily apply from the comfort of your home.

You don’t need to have a confirmed higher education place before you apply for DSA and we recommend that you apply as early as possible, so you have support in place before your course starts. However, you can apply at any point during your studies.

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Apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

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Book and attend your needs assessment

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Access your support and training


There are three key steps to the DSA process - click + to find out more

    To complete or download an application form visit Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales.

    Once your eligibility for DSA has been confirmed, student finance will send you a DSA1 letter. If you’ve provided consent to share, we’ll contact you directly to arrange a study needs assessment. If you haven't provided consent to share or want to call us to arrange your needs assessment directly, our contact details will be in your DSA1 (see Step 2).

    Your DSA1 will tell you how to book your needs assessment.

    A study needs assessment is an informal meeting with one of our skilled needs assessors, who are experienced in recommending support and equipment for our customers.

    The assessment is not a test of any sort, but an opportunity to discuss the most appropriate support options for you.  Prior to the assessment, your assessor will review the disability evidence you supplied at the point of application to understand your needs.

    What to expect during the assessment

    You’ve been asked to attend a needs assessment to work out what support you need to help you during your studies. At your needs assessment, you’ll talk with your needs assessor about the impact your disability has on your studies, your experience of any support you’ve already had and the details of your course. Your needs assessor may also demonstrate equipment or software to you.

    After your needs assessment, your assessor will write a report for Student Finance England (SFE) or Student Finance Wales (SFW) recommending what DSA support you should get. You’ll be given the option to review a draft copy of the report before it’s sent to SFE or SFW, if you wish. Once SFE or SFW have reviewed the report, you’ll be notified of the specific DSA support that’s been approved and how to access it.

    Your needs assessment can be completed in person or online by video call. We’ll be able to accommodate whichever option you prefer. You’ll be offered a selection of time slots to choose from.

    Benefits of in person assessments

    It can be good to attend your needs assessment in person if you:

    • would benefit from a physical demonstration of equipment and software that may be recommended
    • have poor network/broadband coverage
    • would like a session in a private place, free from distractions

    Benefits of online video call assessments

    It can be good to attend your needs assessment online if you:

    • are anxious about travelling
    • feel more comfortable in a place you choose
    • struggle talking about your disability in person

    If you’re not able to use online video calls, you can choose to have your assessment by telephone instead.

    Students discussion

    Discussion of how you study and support for this

    During the assessment, you and your assessor will discuss the ways in which you study and the support you require as a result of your disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. 

    This will include aspects such as carrying out research for assignments, writing essays, taking notes, revising for exams, or undertaking practical work.

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    Consideration of suitable types of support

    Your assessor will then consider and discuss with you suitable types of support. This may include looking at assistive software and equipment and discussing one-to-one support if appropriate based on your individual needs. 

    You’ll be asked whether you think the support will benefit you and be given the opportunity to ask questions, so it is worthwhile considering any areas that you are worried about or want more information on prior to your assessment.

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    Agreement of report recommendations

    At the end of the assessment, you and your assessor will have agreed what will be recommended and your assessor will then write your Needs Assessment Report (NAR). This outlines the recommendations and how they will support you with your studies. 

    A copy of the NAR is sent to you, student finance and shared with your higher education provider if you have requested us to do so. This ensures that everybody involved in supporting you will have a copy of the report.

    In general, we ask that you allow up to two hours for the assessment, as the appointment time can vary depending on your needs. If you would like to bring a friend or a family member, please feel free to do so. We would only ask you to limit this to one person.

    You’ll receive a DSA2 entitlement letter which enables you to access the recommended specialist support. 

    After processing your Needs Assessment Report (NAR), Student Finance will send you a DSA2 entitlement letter that tells you which recommendations they agree to fund, and what to do next in terms of ordering equipment and arranging any one-to-one support. 

    You will be advised to contact your Non-Medical Help provider directly.

    Assistive technology (AT) equipment
    AT consists of products, equipment and systems that enhance learning for individuals with disabilities. The cost of these items is included in your DSA2, and you can place your AT equipment order via our customer services team.
    Assistive technology (AT) training
    If you receive AT equipment as part of your DSA, a programme of AT training is highly recommended to show you how to get up and running with specialist software or hardware.

    Once your AT equipment is delivered (whether hardware or software or both) we’ll contact you within one working day to arrange a suitable date for your first AT training session.  

    AT training can be delivered in a form that best suits your needs, i.e. online or face-to-face.   
    Your trainer will create a training plan that will identify how the feature set(s) of each recommended item of equipment will best meet your needs, matching these products to the challenges you face while also considering your immediate study needs.


    Disabled Students’ Allowance FAQs

    Have a question? Try our frequently asked question page first.

    Contact us

    If you need advice or support at any stage of the process, please get in touch:


    Remember, do not provide any personal information, such as your date of birth or home address.


    You can call us on 01823 273060 between 9am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

    Log a post assessment query

    If you’ve been assessed by Contact Associates you can log a post-assessment query.


    You can email our team directly.

    For more information about applying for DSA, please visit Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales


    Other useful contacts

    How to make a comment or complaint about our service 

    Please tell us if you are unhappy with any part of our service so we can try to put it right. This helps us to understand what we are doing well and where we need to do things better.

    How to contact Student Finance:

    Student Finance England (SFE)

    Email: dsa_team@slc.co.uk 
    Telephone: 0300 100 0607 
    NGT text relay (if you cannot hear/speak on the phone): 18001 then 0300 100 0607
    Website: https://www.gov.uk/contact-student-finance-england

    Student Finance Wales (SFW)

    Email: SFW_DSA_Team@slc.co.uk
    Telephone: 0300 200 4050
    Website: https://www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/contact/

    Higher education providers 

    If you’re from a higher education provider and have a query for the Capita DSA team, please email our dedicated inbox: DSAHEPManager@capita.com

    Contact Associates students

    If you were assessed by Contact Associates on or before 23 Feb 2024, have received your DSA support and have a query, we are still here to support you. Please contact us via our Zelda portal or by email at admin@contact-associates.co.uk.

    If you were assessed by Contact Associates on or after 26 Feb 2024 and have a query, please contact us via our Zelda portal or by email at dsa@capita.com

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