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Claiborne Pell, Senator Behind College Grants Dies

The Creator of the Pell grant, Claiborne Pell died this week at age 90. In 1972 he set out to create a federal scholarship and grant program based on financial need to help students go to college.�� This would become the largest program for federal college grants.

His most widely known legacy is the Pell Grant, which helps millions of American undergraduates pay for college each year. In 2008, the program was expected to distribute almost 5.6 million grants totaling $16.4 billion, an average award of $2,945, according to the U.S. Education Department.

He also successfully shepherded legislation, actively supported by President Lyndon Johnson, that created the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1965.

Pell told the New York Times in 1996 that while the program "has exceeded my wildest hopes," he regretted that it hadn't become an entitlement, like Social Security, that would be immune to annual budget battles.

Claiborne Pell was a senate Democrat who represented Rhode Island.�� In 1995 he announced that he had Parkinson's diseases, and retired from the senate in 1997, at the end of his sixth term.

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