Gardiner Scholarship 2022 (application guide)

The Gardiner Scholarship Program 2022 for students with exceptional needs is being announced by the Step Up For Students Organization, and we couldn’t be happier to help spread the word.



Families of children with special needs may apply for Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES), formerly known as the Gardiner Scholarship.

With the scholarship, parents may choose whatever programs and providers they want to pay for their children’s education.

Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for children with special needs were created in Arizona and Florida in 2014. A college savings account is only one of the many options available to students today.


The Gardiner Scholarship was formerly known as the Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts, a total of 1,491 students were enrolled in the first year of the school.

The program was renamed by the Florida Congress in 2016 in honor of Florida State University President Andy Gardiner and his family.

Both Gardiner and Camille have dedicated their lives to advocating for children with disabilities. Andrew, the Gardiners’ Down syndrome-affected son, is one of three children they have.

Gardiner and Family Empowerment scholarships will be merged in 2021, according to a congressional decision. There will be a scholarship available to those with speech, language, hearing, and physical disabilities as well as mental or behavioral disorders as of July 1, 2021.

Twenty thousand scholarship students will be supported by the state for the academic year 2021-22. On a first-come, first-served basis, scholarships will be offered.


Benefits of the Scholarship:

The amount for each student’s in the Gardiner Scholarship varies from county to county, as do the needs of the particular student.

Because funds are limited, those that apply as early as possible have a better chance of being funded. The scholarship is typically around $10,000 per student

Families can use the Gardiner Scholarship funds for a variety of purposes, including tuition at a private school, educational materials, curriculum, and digital devices for homeschoolers, specialized therapies, funding for after-school or summer programs, or for the Florida Prepaid College Program for their child.


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Parents requirements:

Must sign an agreement with the SFO annually to:

  • Affirm that the student is enrolled in a program that meets regular school attendance requirements.
  • Affirm that program funds are used only for authorized purposes serving the student’s educational needs.
  • Ensure the students take all appropriate standardized assessments, either the state assessment test or a nationally recognized norm-referenced test that is administered by a school.
  • Affirm that the parent will not transfer any college savings funds to another beneficiary.
  • Affirm that the parent will not take possession of any funding provided by the state.
  • Affirm that an insurance company, Medicaid or any other agency will not be billed for the same services that are paid for using Gardiner Scholarship funds.


Eligible countries:

It is only open to the citizens of Australia and domestic students.


To be eligible for this scholarship, you must be:

  • be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student in Music.
  • specializing in classical piano in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.
  • be an Australian citizen
  • be no more than 30 years old at the time of the award


Note: you must be with one of the following diagnoses:

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Being a high-risk child
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Emotional behavioral oral disability
  • Hearing impairment, including deafness
  • Hospital or homebound
  • Identification as dual sensory impaired
  • Intellectual disability
  • Language impairment
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Phelan-McDermid syndrome
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Rare diseases
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech impairment
  • Spina bifida
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment, including blindness
  • Williams syndrome.

Selection criteria:

Selections are made in consultation with academic staff by the Head d of discipline. The Dean will approve the recipients.

Application process:

If you have one or more of the exceptional skills listed above, you will be immediately accepted into the program. At the end of the year, the best candidates will be notified.

Follow Here to apply for the Gardiner Scholarship


Scholarship period:

Even after they’ve finished high school, students may earn the Gardiner Scholarship (formerly known as Empowerment Scholarship) until they reach 22 years of age or go back to public education.

The fund will be replenished annually if an annual application is submitted and the regulations are adhered to (Sworn Compliance Statement).

No more cash will be placed into the student’s account once the student finishes high school or becomes 22 before July 1 (whichever comes first).

It is possible to keep your scholarship account open if you submit a renewal application and the accompanying paperwork each year.


the scholarship account will remain in place until:

  • the funds have been used;
  • any period of two consecutive years after high school completion or graduation during which the student has not been enrolled in an eligible postsecondary educational institution or a program offered by the institution;
  • there has been no spending activity for two consecutive fiscal years (July 1 – June 30). At that point, the account is closed and any remaining money reverts to the state.

Student accounts will be locked if Step Up for Students does not receive a renewal application by June 30 of each year. Additional reimbursements or expenses cannot be issued until Step Up for Students has received and processed the renewal application.

Two consecutive fiscal years of no spending from an account will be declared inactive unless the account is reactivated. No additional scholarship monies will be placed into the account while it is in an inactive state. After two consecutive fiscal years of inactivity, a bank account must be canceled and any money left in it returned to the state.

At the time the student is six (6) years old before September 1 of the school year for which they are applying, they must produce evidence of eligibility for the student under one of the other qualifying illnesses.


Application deadline for the Gardiner Scholarship:

Prior beneficiaries have until June 30th to reapply, and new applicants will be processed in the order they are received.

As a result, parents must keep track of Gardiner’s annual application deadlines and reapply every year. If a child does not enroll in a public school, he or she is eligible until the end of 12th grade or the age of 22, whichever comes first.


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