Frequently Asked Questions

The scholarship amount varies according to grade and county. The average amount for most students in 2018-19 is $10,000 and is based on a matrix level of 253. Click here to view the scholarship amount by grade and county.

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.

A parent of a student with a disability who does not have an IEP or who would like a reevaluation of an existing IEP may choose to request an IEP meeting and evaluation from the school district to obtain or revise a matrix of services from the school district. The amount of the scholarship payment will be adjusted up or down based on the revised level of services, after the district completes the matrix.  Please note that an initial IEP may be requested at any time from the school district, and subsequently, an IEP reevaluation is available every three years.

For the 2018-19 school year, the state has provided enough money to support roughly 8,500 students. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Parents can use the account to pay for a variety of approved services and materials. These may include: tuition and fees at an eligible private school; an eligible postsecondary institution or those associated with home education programs; applied behavior analysis services and a variety of therapies; private full-time and part-time tutoring; virtual programs or online courses; exam fees; contract services from school districts; contributions to the Florida prepaid and 529 college savings plans; instructional material; curriculum; horse, music and art therapy; transition services; and services provided by VPK providers and school readiness providers. For a full list and additional detail, please refer to the Parent Handbook.

Students can continue to receive the Gardiner Scholarship until they graduate from high school, turn 22 or return to public school.

Funding to the account will continue each year, based on the annual application submission, agreement to comply with the rules (Sworn Compliance Statement), and final verification document submission. Once the student graduates from high school or turns 22 on or before September 1 (whichever comes first,) no additional funds will be deposited into the student’s account. However, if the intent to continue in the program is demonstrated each year by the submission of a renewal application and the required documentation, the scholarship account will remain in place until  

  • the funds have been used; or 
  • any period of 3 consecutive years after high school completion or graduation during which the student has not been enrolled in an eligible postsecondary educational institution or a program offered by the institution;

  • there has been no spending activity for three consecutive fiscal years (July 1 – June 30). 

At that point, the account is closed and any remaining money reverts to the state.  

If Step Up for Students does not receive a renewal application each year by June 30, the student’s account will be frozen so that additional reimbursements or expenditures cannot be made until the renewal application and required documentation have been received and processed. 

If there is no spending from an account for two consecutive fiscal years, the account will be considered inactive until spending occurs. While the account is in an inactive status, no new scholarship funds will be deposited into the account.  If an account is inactive for three consecutive fiscal years, the account must be closed, and any remaining funds revert to the state.

Yes, the Gardiner Scholarship can be used as an educational tool for parents educating their children at home.

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