According to a report by consumer group, Student Loans.net, around 70% of students are graduating with a substantial amount of student loan debt, and it will take an average graduate 22 years to pay off student loans. Loan repayment comes before saving for retirement, getting married, having kids, and nearly half of millennials prefer student loan benefits to a 401k, and more than half would consider a salary cut to have this benefit. Student loan payment is a significantly attractive addition to the suite of company benefits an employer can offer. To address this opportunity, Dartmouth alum Gregory Poulin, MALS ’16, and Hemant Verma founded Goodly in April this year.
“Our goal,” Poulin says, “is to help employees become debt free as quickly as possible. Goodly is a home-run for companies because even a small employer contribution of $100 per employee per month - less than the cost of a cup of coffee per day - will help the average borrower pay off their student loans 30% faster than they otherwise would,” he adds.
Poulin, who holds a BA from Wheaton College, MA, was drawn to the academic rigor of Dartmouth and joined the MALS program to pursue globalization studies. His thesis work focused on the intersection of science, technology, and national security and his work has been published in WIRED, The Hill, The Diplomat, and Real Clear World. During his time at MALS, he had the opportunity to research multiple international policy issues with the National Security and International Affairs division of the White House Office of Science Technology Policies (OSTP) in Washington, D.C. "One of the highlights of my time with OSTP was working on the first-ever White House Demo Day, focused on inclusive entrepreneurship. It was incredibly inspiring to welcome 30 startup teams from across the country and diverse backgrounds to share their entrepreneurial journeys with President Obama," Poulin said.
He has direct experience of just how important clearing student debt is to a recent graduate, having taken out loans himself after a sudden death in his family during graduate school. Furthermore, after moving to Silicon Valley upon graduation, he saw how offering a loan repayment benefit helped companies stand out in a highly competitive recruiting environment. “Companies understand how challenging student loan debt is for millennial employees,” Poulin notes, “and are coming to Goodly to proactively help their employees overcome this hurdle. Student loan benefits are not difficult to implement or administer, nor is it hugely expensive - and Goodly is wildly popular with employees leading to a huge boost in both employee engagement and retention,” he added.
Goodly was accepted into the Summer 2018 batch at the prestigious startup accelerator Y Combinator, joining companies such as AirBnB, Dropbox, and Reddit. Poulin describes Goodly’s mission and place in the market in a recent interview with TechCrunch.
Poulin’s vision is for student loan payment to become a common benefit that is accessible to all employees, eventually becoming a precursor to a 401(k) for millennial and Gen Z employees. Poulin credits part of his entrepreneurial acumen to Dartmouth, where he was encouraged by impactful results from putting in the necessary work when opportunities presented themselves. Goodly and Poulin are also already enriching the Dartmouth experience, hosting Kierra Sweeney ’19 and Jack Richardson ’20 as interns this year.
Gregory Poulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org