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How the Family Empowerment Scholarship
(formerly Gardiner) Works


We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021-22 school year.


Families interested in next school year (2022-23) may click here to join our interest list and be among the first to hear when you can apply.


Students receiving McKay Scholarship funds for the 2021-22 school year will transition to the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities program (FES-UA) for the 2022-23 school year. Please click here for important information for McKay families.

The Family Empowerment Scholarship (formerly Gardiner) program helps parents individualize the educational plans for their children with certain special needs.

A different kind of scholarship: The Family Empowerment Scholarship (formerly Gardiner) 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 Scholarship award amount varies according to grade, county of residence and disability. The award amounts for the 2021-22 school year are still being determined.

For a student who has a Level I to Level III matrix of services or a diagnosis by a physician or psychologist, the calculated scholarship amount for a student participating in the program must be based upon the grade level and school district in which the student would have been enrolled. The funds must be allocated based on the school district’s average exceptional student education guaranteed allocation funds per exceptional student education full-time equivalent student.

For a student with a Level IV or Level V matrix of services, the calculated scholarship amount must be based upon the school district to which the student would have been assigned as the total funds per full-time equivalent for the Level IV or Level V exceptional student education program.

For a student who received a Gardiner Scholarship in the 2020-2021 school year, the amount of the award will be the greater of the amount calculated above or the amount the student received for the 2020-2021 school year.

If you are interested in becoming an approved provider, please read the Provider Handbook for more information. Please contact with any additional questions.

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