The Leon Levine Foundation will give $1 million to a special scholarship fund at Johnson C. Smith University to help cover tuition costs for students in need, the school announced Thursday.

Established in 2013, the President’s Gap Scholarship Fund is used to addresses shortfalls between financial aid students receive and the total cost of their college education. About 484 students received gap funding during the 2014-2015 school year, totaling almost $1.5 million, the school said.

The Levine Foundation had previously given $200,000 over the last two years to support the scholarship fund.

JCSU President Ronald Carter called the latest grant a “very transformative commitment.”

“This gift from The Leon Levine Foundation makes a huge statement about the vital importance of helping our students secure the financial means to complete the coursework required for a JCSU degree,” he said in a statement.

JCSU said the fund helps retain deserving students, such as Kenyatta Little, a senior majoring in communication arts, whose mother was laid off last year from her job in Winston-Salem.

“We were unsure how we could make ends meet and cover the cost of the tuition payment plan,” Little said in the JCSU announcement. “It (the scholarship fund) took a lot of stress off of my family and enabled me to continue my education.”

Little plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in 2017 and enroll in law school.

Tom Lawrence, executive director of the Levine Foundation, said the fund will help hundreds of students.

“We believe that education is a pathway to self-sufficiency and young people should have access to a quality education, no matter their interests or financial means,” he said.