The Gardiner Scholarship Program

Program Information

  • ESA
  • Program Type: Education Savings Account Program, Special Needs Program

Student Participation

  • Student must have been diagnosed with one of the following: anaphylaxis, autism, cerebral palsy, deafness, down syndrome, dual sensory impaired, high-risk, hospital or homebound, intellectual disability, muscular dystrophy, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, have a rare disease as defined by the National Organization for Rare Disorders, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, visually impaired, Williams syndrome, or be considered a high-risk 3-, 4- or 5-year-old child with a developmental delay in cognition, language or physical development
  • Student must have either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) from a Florida school district or a formal diagnosis from a licensed physician or psychologist
  • Parent must sign an agreement with the tax scholarship funding organization (SFO) annually to:
    • Affirm that the student is enrolled in a program that meets regular school attendance requirements
    • Use program funds only for authorized purposes including not submitting payment to both Medicare and Gardiner for the same service
    • Ensure that the student takes all appropriate standardized assessments, either the state assessment test or a nationally recognized norm-referenced test
    • Affirm that the parent will not transfer any college saving funds to another beneficiary
    • Affirm that the parent will not take possession of any funding provided by the state
  • Comply with all requirements of private schools participating in the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program or the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship
  • Provide SFO with all documentation required for the student’s participation, including the private school and student fee schedules
  • Be academically accountable to the parent by:
    • Annually providing to the parent a written explanation of the student’s progress
    • Annually administering, for students participating in the program in grades 3-10, one of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified by the Florida Department of Education or the statewide assessments; a participating private school shall report a student’s scores to the parent; students with disabilities for whom standardized testing is not appropriate are exempt from this requirement
  • Participate in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
  • Determine student eligibility
  • Provide the Department of Education with information on the student to enable the Department to report the student for funding
  • Establish and maintain separate accounts for each eligible student
  • Verify qualifying expenditures
  • Return any unused funds to the department when the student is no longer eligible for a Gardiner Scholarship

Data Update

Accounts Awarded
Schools Participating
SFOs Operating
2017 Expenditures


Scholarship Cap
- 90 percent of the amount of public school funding that the student would have received based on a matrix level that assigns the student to support Level III of services
Enrollment Cap
- None
Program Funding
- $105.3 million appropriated for 2017-18
- $124.6 million appropriated for 2018-19