And no, I'm not talking about Adolphus Busch (though he did a lot too--this was before I knew what beer actually was). I'm talking about Senator Claiborne Pell, who wrote one of the most important pieces of legislation of the last fifty years, and who died just after midnight, earlier today.

If you attended college, then you probably either got a Pell grant or knew someone who did. By the time Pell retired in 1994, more than 54 million people had received them, and that number has grown far larger in the last 14 years. Pell grants were a large part of the reason why I was able to continue in college after my divorce--they paid for most of my tuition, my student loans paid for my child support, and my 2-3 jobs (it varied from year to year) paid my day-to-day expenses. I needed all three sources to make it, and I wasn't living rich, that's for sure. You can ask my daughter about the quality of her Christmas presents during those years if you like.

But I made it through thanks in part to those grants, and had it not been for those grants, I might not have been able to start my degrees, much less finish them. I'm certainly not alone in that respect either. Claiborne Pell did more to help higher education than most, and I'm glad he took the lead that he did. We're a better nation for his efforts, and I'm sad we've lost him. My condolences to his family and friends.

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