Home » Gardiner Scholarship for Students to Apply for 2024

Are you interested in the Gardiner scholarship? As you read on, we will be taking our time to educate you on what it is and how you can get the advantage of getting one.

Gardiner Scholarship

Gardiner Scholarship Program

The Gardiner Scholarship Program, formerly known as the Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA), was a Florida state-funded initiative.

It aimed to assist eligible students with special needs by offering a scholarship that could be utilized to procure approved services or products, enabling the creation of a tailored educational program catering to their distinct requirements.

Named after Florida State Senator Andy Gardiner, a key figure in the legislation’s enactment, the program sought to better address the individual educational and therapeutic needs of children with disabilities.

Open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, eligibility hinged on factors like the student’s diagnosis, the severity of their disability, and their existing educational environment.

The scholarship funds provided flexibility, covering various educational and therapeutic services and products.

This included expenses for private school tuition, home education, virtual school programs, specialized therapies, assistive technology, and more.

Families could select from a list of pre-approved providers or seek approval for new providers meeting the program’s eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Requirements

Here are the requirements for this scholarship:

1. Student Eligibility

To qualify for the Gardiner Scholarship, a student must meet the following criteria: be a resident of Florida, aged between 3 and 22, and not have graduated from high school.

Additionally, the student must have a qualifying disability as defined by the Florida Department of Education.

The eligible disabilities include autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, or Williams syndrome.

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2. Family Income Requirements

The Gardiner Scholarship program does not impose income requirements on families. Nevertheless, to qualify for the program, families are required to furnish evidence of residency and income.

Additionally, families must provide documentation verifying their child’s disability diagnosis.

3. Disability Requirements

To qualify for the Gardiner Scholarship, a student must possess a recognized disability, as outlined by the Florida Department of Education.

The eligible disabilities encompass autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, or Williams syndrome.

Additionally, the student must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan or must have received a diagnosis from a licensed physician.

The overarching aim of the Gardiner Scholarship program is to extend financial support to families with students having disabilities, enabling them to access educational resources and services that might otherwise be beyond their reach.

Meeting the specified eligibility criteria allows families to secure funding for tuition, therapy services, and various other educational expenses.

How to Apply

To seek a Gardiner Scholarship, parents or guardians should fill out an online application on the Step Up For Students website.

This application process is open to both new applicants and those who have received the scholarship before.

Parents need to stay informed about Gardiner’s annual application deadlines and reapply each year.

The deadline for submitting the Gardiner Scholarship application is June 30th annually.

Required Documents

To be eligible for a Gardiner Scholarship, applicants must furnish evidence of their child’s age, diagnosis, and residency. The application process mandates the submission of the following documents:

1. Proof of Florida residency (utility bill, lease agreement, etc.)

2. Proof of the child’s age (birth certificate, passport, etc.)

3. Documentation validating a qualifying disability (medical records, Individual Education Plan (IEP), etc.)

It’s crucial to emphasize that all required documents must be submitted by the application deadline to be considered for the scholarship.

Upon approval, the funds will be deposited into an Education Savings Account (ESA), allowing for the payment of preapproved services and products.

While the application process for the Gardiner Scholarship is straightforward, it is imperative to ensure the timely submission of all necessary documents for consideration.

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