• The Gardiner Scholarship Program


    The Gardiner Scholarship Program provides eligible students a scholarship that can be used to purchase approved services or products in order to design a customized educational program for the student. Scholarships can be used for specialized services such as speech or occupational therapy, instructional materials, tuition at an eligible private school, contributions to a college prepaid account and more. The program is directly administered by state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organizations.


    Who is eligible to receive a Gardiner Scholarship?

    To be eligible to receive a scholarship a student must meet the following eligibility criteria:

    Is a resident of this state;

    Is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a public school in this state or will be 3 or 4 years old before September 1;

    Has a disability as defined below:

    Autism spectrum disorder, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association; cerebral palsy, as defined in s. 393.063(6); Down syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(15); an intellectual disability, as defined in s. 393.063(24); Phelan-McDermid syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(28); Prader-Willi syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(29); spina bifida, as defined in s. 393.063(40); being a high-risk child, as defined in s. 393.063(23)(a); muscular dystrophy; Williams syndrome; rare diseases which affect patient populations of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, as defined by the National Organization for Rare Disorders; anaphylaxis; deaf; visually impaired; traumatic brain injured; hospital or homebound; or identification as dual sensory impaired, as defined by rules of the State Board of Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts. The term “hospital or homebound” includes a student who has a medically diagnosed physical or psychiatric condition or illness, as defined by the state board in rule, and who is confined to the home or hospital for more than 6 months.

    Is the subject of an IEP written in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education or with the applicable rules of another state or has received a diagnosis of a disability from a physician who is licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, a psychologist who is licensed under chapter 490, or a physician who holds an active license issued by another state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.


    How do I apply for the Gardiner Scholarship Program?

    The Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFO) listed below are approved to administer the Gardiner Scholarship Program. Contact the SFO for instructions and deadlines for applying for a scholarship.

    A.A.A. Scholarship Foundation                                                                            Step Up for Students

    Phone: 888-707-2465                                                                                      Phone: 877-735-7837

    info@aaascholarships.org                                                                            Info@stepupforstudents.org


    How much is the average scholarship amount?

    The amount of a child's scholarship is dependent on a number of different factors, including grade level, county of residence and a student's individual level of need. The average full scholarship amount is approximately $10,000. The percentage of scholarship a student qualifies depends on the date eligibility is confirmed by the scholarship funding organization.

    September 1100%

    November 175%

    February 150%

    April 125%


    How are Gardiner Scholarship students evaluated for educational progress?

    Private schools that enroll students on the scholarship must annually administer or make provisions for students participating in the program in grades 3 through 10 to take one of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified by the Department of Education or the statewide assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22. Students with disabilities for whom standardized testing is not appropriate are exempt from this requirement. A participating private school shall report a student’s scores to the parent.


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