BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The University of Baltimore announced a $5 million donation on Monday that will help community college students and military veterans cover the cost of tuition.

University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke announced the gift from the Bob and Rene Parsons Foundation will allow more than 1,000 students from community colleges to complete their education free at UB.

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The nonprofit is run by the family of Baltimore native Bob Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy.com and a veteran. They will donate $1 million per year over the next five years that will help roughly 250 students per year, Schmoke said.

“These young people will get a letter that says, ‘Congratulations, your education is paid for,'” said Dr. Jay Perman, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

The goal of the fund is to close the gap between the cost of college and the lack of financial aid made available to military veterans through the federal Pell Grant program.

Howard Community College President Kathleen Hetherington said people have “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive high education is.

“It costs more money to go to a four-year institution than a community college,” she said.

“I’ve heard of many families that could not afford the opportunity to even pay for a two-year college, unlikely a four-year college,” Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young added at Monday’s announcement.

Schmoke said this scholarship has the power to change that.

The Parsons’ donation came with a condition, Schmoke said: that the grant money would specifically help veterans.

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“Veterans will be favored in this program,” he told WJZ.

Military veterans need to complete at least 60 credits in a community college to be eligible for the program.

One of those veterans is Army veteran Shaun Redden. He described having to pay for his own education for graduate school after his benefits ran out once he completed his undergraduate education.

“I had to come out of pocket for some of those things and a scholarship like this would definitely help bridge that gap,” he said.

“Money is such a barrier for people,” he added.

Redden described joining the Army right out of high school, hoping for the glory of combat. He returned to Maryland from Iraq after completing his service unsure of what was ahead.

“The U.S. Army was quite literally the only job I ever had, so in my separation from the Army I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do, but at the very least I knew I wanted to earn a degree,” he said.

Now, Redden is in his first year of business school at UB.

Schmoke said they’re trying to spread the word about this scholarship and are sending representatives to community colleges.

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To learn more about the program, click here.

Annie Rose Ramos