special needs scholarships

The Gardiner Scholarship | Special Needs Scholarship


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2019-20 School Year:

We are no longer accepting applications or supporting documents for the Gardiner Scholarship for the 2019-20 school year.

2020-21 School Year:

Renewal and new families may APPLY NOW for the Gardiner Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year by clicking the button below.

Please note: Gardiner Scholarship funding is limited, and applications are processed based on the following priority:

  • RENEWAL students will have funding priority until June 30, 2020. If funding is not available at the time an award determination is made, the student may be placed on the waitlist. (A renewal student is one who has received Gardiner Scholarship funding for the 2019-20 school year.)
  • NEW students, including those currently on the 2019-20 Gardiner waitlist, who are found eligible for a 2020-21 Gardiner Scholarship will be placed on a waitlist due to the requirement to provide renewal students priority.
    • Once the deadline for renewal priority has passed (June 30, 2020), and depending on available funding, students will be moved from the waitlist in this order: 1) students who were on the 2019-20 Gardiner Scholarship waitlist and 2) new students.
  • Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Within the above priority groups, students will be awarded based on the date and time eligibility was determined.

Reminder: Students on the Gardiner Scholarship waitlist for the 2019-20 school year have priority over new students for the 2020-21 school year. We strongly encourage families to apply early.

Apply Now

The Gardiner Scholarship program helps parents individualize the educational plans for their children with certain special needs was named the Gardiner Scholarship in January of 2016. The name honors Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, who led the legislative effort to create the program, and his family. Gardiner and his wife Camille have championed the cause of children with unique abilities for many years. The Gardiners have two daughters and a son, Andrew, who has Down syndrome.

A different kind of scholarship: The Gardiner Scholarship is different than other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize the education of their children with unique abilities by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. These include schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology – even a college savings account.

The Gardiner Scholarship amount varies according to grade and county of residence. The Gardiner Scholarship award amounts for the 2020-21 school year are still being determined. However, the average amount for most students in the 2019-2020 school year is 10,400Click here to view the 2019-20 Gardiner Scholarship Amounts (PDF).

  • Renewal students
    • The funding calculation remains the same, and defaults to a matrix that assigns the student to 90% of the 253 level, unless the student’s parent has asked the school district for a revised matrix.
  • New students
    • If the student does not have a matrix level of services, funding defaults to 90% of the 253 level.
    • If the student has a matrix level of services on file with the Florida Department of Education, due to public school enrollment, of 254 or 255, they will be funded at 90% of that matrix level, and they will not need to utilize the matrix review process established in the Gardiner law in order to receive the additional funding.
    • Most students with an IEP will not have a matrix level of services.
    • If you have an IEP, you are not required to request a matrix level. Please note that doing so could adjust your matrix level and corresponding amount of scholarship funding down to a lower level.
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