Bills to enhance Gardiner Scholarship filed in both legislative chambers

Florida Capitol
Bills enhancing the nation’s largest education savings account were filed in the House and Senate this week

Bills to enhance the Gardiner Scholarship program were filed in the House and Senate this week.  HB 1051 and its companion SB 1380 were filed by Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff (R-DeLand) and Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) respectively.

If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, the changes in the bill would allow parents to apply for the scholarship the day their child turns 3, and permit parents to use the scholarship to pay for tuition and fees associated with art, music or theater programs.

The bills also would make it easier for parents to renew their scholarship. Renewing parents would no longer be required to get a notarized “sworn compliance statement,” which is required to notify the Department of Education (DOE) of the parent’s intent to accept the scholarship and not enroll in other publicly funded educational options.

The bill would also require the DOE to create a secure website that allows parents to submit all required information in order to maintain program eligibility.

The Gardiner Scholarship is an “education savings account” program that gives parents of children with special needs a bank account to access in order to pay for tuition, fees, curriculum, school books, therapies, text books and more.

The scholarship is administered by non-profits such as Step Up For Students (which hosts this blog). Step Up funded 11,276 students with scholarships averaging $10,389 during the 2018-19 school year.

Step Up is currently accepting new and renewal applications for the Gardiner Scholarship. Parents may apply here. Step Up has already awarded more than 5,000 scholarships for 2019-20.


  1. Considering your association with Step Up For Students that administers the scholarship, it’s pretty ridiculous that you can’t properly describe the Gardiner Scholarship. The description of a bank account indicates that we are given the funds and that we have direct access to spend the funds. You know (or should) that the funds are held in trust and are released to us only as reimbursements after purchases are made, reviewed and approved (or as direct payment to providers for approved purchases).

    • Patrick R. Gibbons

      Hi Nancy,

      The money is literally in a bank account. Every student has an account that parents have access to. The fact that the money must go toward educational items approved under the law, and that Step Up or AAA must review all purchases, doesn’t make it any less of a bank account. Describing it as a bank account that can be used for certain educational related items is an accurate and easy way to describe what an “Education savings account” is without repeating yourself. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. will they end the waitlist soon