Basic Program Facts about the
Gardiner Scholarship

SUFS Dreams_CMYK_2560x1500The Gardiner Scholarship program is a unique program for children with special needs. The scholarship allows parents to personalize the education of their children by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. Florida became the second state in the nation, after Arizona, to create an education savings account program for children with special needs in 2014.

Florida’s newest school choice program began enrolling students less than two months after being signed into law. More than 13,000 students received scholarships in the inaugural 2014-15 school year.

In 2016, the Florida legislature renamed the program in honor of Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner 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.

Learn more about the Gardiner Scholarship program below or download the 2019-20 Gardiner Scholarship Fact Sheet here.


$147.9 million is available for the Gardiner Scholarship in 2019-20. Step Up estimates it will be able to serve approximately 14,000 students on scholarship this year. Scholarships are available on a rolling basis and are prorated quarterly.

Last year Step Up managed $126 million in education savings accounts for 11,458. The scholarships averaged $10,305 that year.

For 2018-19:

  • 63.6 percent of students were diagnosed with autism
  • 13 percent have an intellectual disability
  • 5.6 percent were diagnosed as a “high-risk” child
  • 4.2 percent with rare diseases
  • 3.6 percent have multiple disabilities
  • 2.7 percent have cerebral palsy
  • 2.3 percent have Down syndrome
  • 5 percent were diagnosed with one of the other eligible disabilities such as Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, and Williams Syndrome.

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