Everything you need to know about DSA Laptops

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a grant that you don’t have to repay issued by the government to disabled and neurodivergent students whose learning at university is directly impacted by their condition and symptoms. The eligibility requirements are outlined here, where you can learn more about the types of disabilities which are eligible and how to apply for DSA. 

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One of the forms of supportive learning equipment which students might be able to receive from DSA is a DSA laptop. There are a range of factors which affect the model, cost, processor and style of DSA laptop you could expect to be issued, and these are usually based on your individual learning needs. This blog will outline all the answers to the questions you have relating to how to get a DSA laptop. 


Eligibility for DSA Laptops

So firstly, not every student who is eligible for DSA will be able to request a laptop. This is because the support you are issued needs to support a learning need impacted by your disability at university. For example: if you have a specific learning condition such as dyslexia, DSA may offer you a laptop so that it can be pre-loaded with supportive software such as spell checking software like Grammarly


Laptop Contribution of £200

As DSA laptops are one of the most expensive forms of support you can receive through DSA, there is a base contribution rate of £200 required for students to pay towards the cost of the laptop, with the rest of the expense covered by DSA. It is important to be aware that many universities offer a service through their disability or finance support team where they will cover/reimburse this fee for you, meaning that you don’t have to be out of pocket. Be aware however that this is subject to the specific university you are attending. 


Software issued by DSA to install on your laptop

Many reasons why DSA laptops are offered to disabled students is so that they can be pre-loaded with assistive technology software and subscriptions such as:



Types of DSA Laptops available 

You will find out if you are able to receive a DSA laptop at your needs assessment. If your assessor does not include a laptop on their list of recommended forms of support, you can ask them if you are eligible and explain how it will support your learning needs at university. The model of laptop you are offered will be in relation to whether you have been issued any assistive technology software such as those outlined above. Some software systems require a more developed processor to run, while others run efficiently on a more standard laptop. The standard laptop which DSA typically offers to disabled students can be from companies such as Acer, Asus, DELL, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, MSI and Toshiba. The standard model will have an average processor of the equivalent of an Intel i5/AMD Ryzen 5 (this means the laptop will be able to process the software provided by DSA at a faster speed, with an efficient performance for studying). In some cases for students they might be offered a lower range laptop than this if their needs are not as specific, and other students who require additional software for their course such as Adobe Premiere Pro may be offered a laptop with a processor of a higher quality/speed.


How to upgrade DSA laptops to a better model 

Once DSA offers you the standard laptop model, you will have the opportunity to upgrade your DSA laptop to a better model if you wish, at your own expense. You can start your upgrade on the Barry Bennet website here where they outline all the steps you need to take to choose your alternative laptop model. With the upgrades you can choose from a range of either Apple Macs, PC Notebooks or 2 in one Laptops. The 2 in one laptops may be a great alternative for students who were asking about receiving an iPad through DSA as they are detachable from the keyboard so more lightweight. 


When you view the upgrade options available on the Barry Bennet website, the prices shown are the full cost of the model. To calculate how much you will be expected to pay for the upgrade, deduct the cost of the standard DSA laptop you were issued from the price of this new upgraded model – this will be the difference you pay. (This is in addition to the original contribution of £200).


FAQ’s regarding iPads/Tablets 

A question which many students often ask is “can I ask for an iPad/Tablet instead of a laptop from DSA?”. The reasoning as to why laptops are typically offered to disabled students as a form of learning support at university by DSA is due to the assistive technology software preloaded onto the device. If you have been issued any assistive technology software through the DSA programme it will be unlikely that you could ask to switch to an iPad or tablet instead of a laptop as then you would not be able to use the recommended software to support your learning. However, certain students have requirements which means they need a smaller/lighter/compact device to carry around with them due to their individual needs, so it has been known for DSA to issue iPads and tablets to students in the past, subject to their requirements and if there is suitable disability related justification. It’s an exceptional case, not the standard offer. 


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How to contact your DSA Assessor

There are often issues that students face following receiving their DSA packages and it can be hard to know how to resolve these situations. One of the easiest ways to get the information you need is to contact your DSA Assessor. You can do this by asking them for contact details such as an email during the assessment so that you have correspondence access later on, or you could also try contacting SFE to see if they can connect you to your DSA assessor directly.

You can do this by:

  • Telephone: 0300 100 0607 
  • Twitter
  • Web Chat: By logging in to your account here


FAQs about DSA Laptops

Students have asked the Jamworks DSA Advice team many questions in relation to DSA Laptops, so here are some FAQs which may provide answers to your situation!


“Can I send back my laptop to DSA if I haven’t used it and ask for a better one?”

If you received a DSA laptop in a previous academic year but since then have not used it, we recommend getting in touch with your assessor or the SFE team to outline the reasons why the laptop is not supporting your academic needs. Based on this they can potentially offer you a new assessment so that you are given the correct support for your studies, and an alternate laptop may be included in this. 


“The DSA laptop I have been given doesn’t enable me to run the correct software for my course, what do I do?” 

If DSA have offered you a laptop which is not suitable for your course, you can try to dispute this with the DSA team by outlining how it limits your access to education. Alternatively you can try to upgrade to a different model via the Barry Bennet website.


“I don’t want to pay £200 towards the DSA laptop, can they give me the money instead for me to buy my own?”

Unfortunately DSA does not issue direct payments to students for laptop purchases. If you are not satisfied with the laptop they are offering you, you can refuse to accept and pay for it, or you can upgrade. In addition to this, get in touch with your university to see if they offer a reimbursement fund for the £200 laptop contribution as this way you will be able to put that money towards an upgrade instead and get the laptop you prefer.


Is it possible to procure the laptop myself second hand and have the DSA contribution taken off that price, rather than supplier prices?

In most cases accessing a DSA laptop will already be a more affordable route than purchasing yourself, even second hand. Get in touch with your university to see if you can access the £200 reimbursement fund for DSA laptop contribution and use the additional money saved to upgrade to a model of your choice.


Can I request a financing review for my DSA laptop? Or is all I can do is pay extra money?

If you are not happy with the DSA laptop model you have been offered and would like to request a financing review you can get in contact with DSA to do this, however you will need to come equipped with evidence to support why you feel the model you have been issued is not suitable in relation to your learning at university. 


Do I get to keep the DSA laptop forever?

Yes, any equipment including a laptop which is issued to students through the DSA programme is yours to keep even after you finish your studies. However be aware that any software subscriptions that DSA paid for will end once you are no longer a student.


The Jamworks DSA Community

If you are a disabled/neurodivergent student who is interested in applying for DSA but would like some more information and support with the application process, click here to join the Jamworks DSA Community. This is a Discord group where students can freely ask DSA experts for information and help every step of the process. You can also learn more about the Jamworks app and how to ask for a Jamworks Pro subscription as part of your DSA offers! (Perfect to use with your new DSA laptop!)


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