When I read this morning of the death of Claiborne Pell, the former senator from Rhode Island, I had one thought: Thank you.
Mr. Pell, who was born into an immensely wealthy family, devised the legislation that created the program that dispensed grants to millions of poor and middle-class college students. Although he did not need financial assistance himself, he said he had been inspired by the GI Bill of Rights, which brought opportunities for higher education to returning service members after World War II. He wanted to extend that privilege to other Americans.
Originally called the Basic Eduational Opportunity Grant program, the name was changed to honor its creator.
For me, a Pell grant meant I could leave a job I did not like to attend a college I could not afford and, in doing that, I found a love of newspapers and a career.