A $1 million gift from local philanthropists Joseph and Marie Field will fund a new Community College of Philadelphia scholarship program designed to smooth the path for students who don’t pursue higher education immediately after high school.

The money will allow hundreds to attend the college without paying tuition or fees.

It’s the largest scholarship donation ever to CCP, which enrolls about 27,800, most of whom are nontraditional students. More than half are 24 or older.

Donald Guy Generals, college president, said the gift has the potential to transform lives.

“Either due to personal, social, or financial reasons, many students delay going to college, which negatively impacts their ability to achieve a college degree or pursue career opportunities,” Generals said. “In many cases, the returning students are more mature and return with a stronger commitment to the value of education and its benefits.”

This winter, the college honored Joseph Field, founder of Entercom Communications, with a citizenship award in recognition of his contributions to the arts, health care, and the welfare of children. Joseph and Marie Field have given $10 million to Central High School, Joseph Field’s alma mater, to build a performing arts center; they also support the Curtis Institute of Music and the Free Library of Philadelphia, where Marie Field chairs the One Book, One Philadelphia program.

Joseph Field and Generals struck up a conversation at the award ceremony. Generals said Field was wowed by the success stories of many CCP students, especially those for whom college was not immediately possible.

“He was impressed with the work that’s been done, and he felt the need to try and support our students,” said Generals. “He did not know much about community college.”

The Fields were not available for comment.

In 2015, CCP made college free for academically qualified Philadelphia high school graduates who enroll directly after graduation. The Joseph and Marie Field Foundation Scholarship complements this effort, Generals said.

The Field scholarship will be a “last-dollar” scholarship, meaning students still must apply for financial aid. The scholarship will cover the gap between expected family contribution and total tuition cost.

Philadelphia residents currently pay $193 per credit hour for CCP tuition and fees.

The college will begin accepting applications for the new scholarship Monday.