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. In the inaugural 2014-15 school year, the Gardiner Scholarship (then known as the Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts), served 1,491 students.

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 2020-21 Gardiner Scholarship Fact Sheet here.


The Florida legislature appropriated $189.9 million for the Gardiner Scholarship in 2020-21. Step Up estimates it will be able to serve approximately 17,000 students on scholarship this year. Scholarships are available on a rolling basis and are prorated quarterly.

Last year Step Up managed $136 million in education savings accounts for 13,219 students. The scholarships averaged $10,305 that year.

For 2020-21:

  • 63.8 percent of students are diagnosed with autism
  • 9.8 percent with intellectual disability
  • 8.2 percent with rare diseases
  • 4.2 percent with anaphylaxis
  • 3.1 percent with multiple diagnoses
  • 2..7 percent with cerebral palsy
  • 2.3 percent as a “high-risk” child
  • 2.2 percent with Down syndrome
  • 3.7 percent all others

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