The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education today approved a $42 million funding increase to the Gardiner Scholarship program which would boost by slightly more than 28 percent last year’s allocation of $147.9 million.
The scholarship currently serves more than 13,000 students with unique abilities. Approximately another 3,500 remain on a wait list, despite the Legislature’s agreement last year to provide an additional $23 million in funding.
Created in 2014, the program is named for former Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, who led the legislative effort to create the program, and his family. It differs from other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize their child’s education by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers.
Approved expenses include tuition, therapy, curriculum, technology and a college savings account. Unspent money can roll over from year to year.
Gardiner Scholarship amounts vary according to grade and county. The average amount for most students in the 2019-20 school year is $10,400.
The budget proposal must win approval from the corresponding House committees, as well as the full House and Senate, to be included in the final proposed budget sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis.