Donald E. Heller

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, University of San Francisco

About Donald

Heller’s teaching and research is in the areas of educational economics, public policy, and finance, with a primary focus on issues of college access, choice, and success for low-income and minority students.

In the News

Donald E. Heller quoted on the fate of public education by Kelly Field, "Betsy DeVos Survived a Historic Confirmation Fight. What’s Next for Higher Ed?" Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2017.
"Want College to be Affordable? Start with Pell Grants," Donald E. Heller, The Conversation, July 31, 2016.
"Trump’s Higher Ed Proposals Could Leave Poor Students out of College," Donald E. Heller, The Conversation, May 25, 2016.
"Should Wealthier Students Get Subsidized College Education?," Donald E. Heller, The Conversation, March 3, 2016.
Donald E. Heller quoted by James B. Nelson, "Activist Claims Wisconsin 'Moved from 16th to Third in Percentage of People with Student Loan Debt.'" Politifact, January 11, 2016.
Sarah Reckhow quoted on education policy reforms by Nicole Geary and Andy Henion, "MSU Education Scholars Named Top Influencers" MSU Today, January 6, 2016.
"Clinton’s Debt-free College Comes with a Price Tag," Donald E. Heller, The Conversation, August 24, 2015.
Donald E. Heller quoted on Pell Grants being a political rather than a fiscal issue by Beth Schwartzapfel, "Obama is Reinstating Pell Grants for Prisoners" The Marshall Project, July 30, 2015.
"O'Malley's Financial Aid Debt is Not Representative," Donald E. Heller, Baltimore Sun, July 22, 2015.
"The End of College? Not So Fast," Donald E. Heller, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2015.
Donald E. Heller quoted on the job market for teachers by Celia Llopis-Jepsen, "Remote Schools Struggle to Fill Positions" Topeka Capital-Journal, March 22, 2015.
Donald E. Heller quoted on the affordability of higher education in Michigan by Melissa Scholke, "Alleviating the Under-Funded" Michigan Daily, January 13, 2015.
"Free Access to Community College Benefits Students but Not the Nation," Donald E. Heller, The Conversation, January 13, 2015.
Donald E. Heller quoted on limiting Obama's college proposal to low-income students by Richard D. Kahlenberg, "The Genius of Obama's Two-Year College Proposal" The Atlantic, January 12, 2015.
Donald E. Heller quoted on the rising tuition for higher education in Michigan by Jack Turman, "Michigan Gets Low Grade for Higher Education Costs" Michigan Daily, January 8, 2015.
"Why I Encouraged My Child to Drop Out of High School," Donald E. Heller, Education Week, June 27, 2014.
"Is the $1 Trillion Student Loan Debt Really a Crisis? – Part 2," Donald E. Heller, The Washington Post, May 30, 2014.
"Is the $1 Trillion Student Loan Debt Really a Crisis?," Donald E. Heller, The Washington Post, May 1, 2014.
"Greater Expectations for Educational Attainment: Government and Colleges Can Do More," Donald E. Heller, The Hechinger Report, February 25, 2014.
"Evaluating the Evaluations of Teacher Education Programs," Donald E. Heller, The Washington Post, December 20, 2013.
"An Open Letter to NCTQ on Teacher Prep," Donald E. Heller (with Avner Segall and Corey Drake), Education Week, December 10, 2013.
"A Study to Measure Value of Community Colleges Falls Short," Donald E. Heller, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 14, 2013.
"Science Class for the Next Generation," Donald E. Heller, Lansing State Journal, April 9, 2013.
"Democrats’ Michigan 2020 Tuition Plan Has Serious Flaws," Donald E. Heller, Detroit Free Press, March 20, 2013.
"For Penn State's Leaders, an Indictment of Malfeasance," Donald E. Heller, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 12, 2012.


Student Financing of Higher Education: A Comparative Perspective (edited with Claire Callender) (Routledge, 2013).
Explores issues such as the push for massification of higher education, macroeconomic and political factors that affect higher education, and the concern that the returns to higher education accrue primarily to the individual rather than to society – and how all these trends occur in various countries and regions around the word.
The States and Public Higher Education Policy: Affordability, Access, and Accountability, 2nd Edition (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
Analyzes how issues of affordability, access, and accountability influence the way in which state governments approach, monitor, and set public higher education policy. Contributors examine the latest research on pressing challenges, explore how states are coping with these challenges, and consider what the future holds for public postsecondary education in the United States.
"High School to College Transition Policy in the American States: Conceptual and Analytical Perspectives on Conducting a Cross-State Study" Educational Policy 23, no. 2 (2009): 385-418.
Argues that researchers should begin asking more empirically oriented questions about both the determinants and the effects of college-transition policies in the states.
"The Context of Higher Education Reform in the United States" Higher Education Management and Policy 21, no. 2 (2009): 71-88.
Analyses the proceedings and impact of the most recent prominent panel examining how effectively higher education is serving American society, the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (commonly known as the Spellings Commission). Also briefly examines how the new administration of President Barack Obama is likely to affect colleges and universities in light of the global economic crisis.
Condition of Access: Higher Education for Lower Income Students (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).
Outlines the gap in college participation between rich and poor, stimulating discussion of barriers to postsecondary education for the most needy students.