Onwuka’s full testimony can be found HERE once the hearing begins.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) today announced Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at IWF, will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development at 10:00 a.m. ET tomorrow, April 26, on alternatives to student loan debt.

The hearing, entitled, “Help Wanted: Exploring How Alternative Paths to Student Debt Can Help to Strengthen Small Business,” will examine how policymakers can address shortages in the workforce and expand alternatives to the middle class that do not require incurring student loan debt.

In her testimony, Onwuka writes, in part, “Although the tight pandemic labor market may be easing, employers are still grappling with widespread, longer-term labor shortages driven by demographic changes and other forces. Sometimes, government policy, even when well-intentioned, erects barriers to opportunity for individuals and contributes to the labor supply challenges that employers face. It’s incumbent upon policymakers working in a bipartisan manner to dismantle those barriers if we want to ensure economic growth for businesses and prosperity for all.”

Hearing witnesses include:

  • Mr. Bruno Schickel
  • Mrs. Meloni Raney
  • Ms. Patrice Onwuka
  • Mr. Eric Elzy

Specific areas of concern that Onwuka will focus on in her testimony include:

  • Rising higher education costs driven by federal financing, the barrier to opportunity that a four-year degree has become, and the impacts of student loan debt on younger generations;
  • Labor force challenges including worker shortages, falling labor force participation, and automation’s displacement of labor impact workers and businesses;
  • Credentialing, including degree inflation (the proliferation of four-year-degree requirements for jobs that previously did not require them) and occupational licensing, lock non-grads out of millions of middle-skilled and entrepreneurial opportunities while exacerbating worker shortages; and
  • National restrictions on independent contracting may destroy lucrative and preferred flexible freelance work. 

During her testimony, Onwuka will highlight the need for Congress to:

  • Consider how the government’s financing of higher education impacts the rising cost of college;
  • Encourage alternatives to student loan financing such as innovative Income Share Agreements, which allow students to borrow on a percentage rather than on an absolute basis in exchange for a certain percentage of their income for a predetermined number of years;
  • Fight degree inflation by removing degree requirements that are unconnected to job duties;
  • Support states in pursuing occupational licensing reforms that hamper individuals from working and launching businesses in specific occupations; and
  • Reject unnecessary restrictions on freelancing that will destroy flexible independent work. 


WHAT: The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Subcommittee Hearing Entitled, “Help Wanted: Exploring How Alternative Paths to Student Debt Can Help to Strengthen Small Business”

WHEN: Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 10:00 AM

WHERE: Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Media Inquiries: [email protected]

Onwuka’s full testimony can also be found HERE once the hearing begins.

Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.
Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) aims to educate the public about how government policies impact people’s opportunities for economic development and upward mobility.