Millennial CEO paying off student debt wants to solve crisis
- Greg Poulin borrowed $ 80,000 to complete his education after his father’s unexpected death.
- He was inspired to create Goodly, a startup that helps employers deliver a student loan repayment benefit.
- Poulin told Insider he believes this is a long-term solution to the student debt crisis.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
In 2011, Greg Poulin was a 22 year old student in Dartmouth when his father passed away suddenly. He had to take out $ 80,000 in student loans to finish his studies, and he’s still working to pay off his debt 10 years later, which now stands at $ 57,345.86, according to documents reviewed by Insider.
After graduating, Poulin became one of the top five employees at Rippling, a San Francisco-based startup that streamlines payroll and benefits administration for businesses. After working there for a few years, Poulin decided he could use this expertise to tackle not only his own student debt, but everyone else’s.
He founded his software start-up Goodly in 2018 to allow employers to offer student loan repayments as a personal benefit. He told Insider that the software could help the average employee pay off their student loans about 31% faster than not.
“The case with employer sponsored student loan repayment programs is straightforward,” Poulin said. “Six in 10 jobs now require post-secondary education beyond high school; yet, due to the skyrocketing cost of higher education, a college degree remains woefully out of reach for millions of Americans without the help of student loans.
Big companies like Staples, Aetna, and Estee Lauder also offer this advantage, but Poulin sees a lot more room for growth.
Poulin’s work behind the scenes
In December, Poulin worked with Congress to pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which allows employers to make tax-free contributions of up to $ 5,250 per year to their employees’ student debt, without payments being made. included in the taxable income of employees. Poulin called it a “watershed moment” for student loan repayment.
Before the enactment of the tax exemption, one in 10 employers offered the benefit, but that figure is now expected to see a 300% increase in 2021, according to the Society of Human Resources Management, rising to one in three employers now that the benefit is tax free.
Poulin said it only takes 10 minutes for employers to set up Goodly, after which Goodly implements employer contribution plans, enrolls employees, verifies student loans, and facilitates payments on behalf of the ’employer.
Thoroughly analyzed 2,000 employers offering student loan repayment benefits in the United States, and found that the benefit is now offered in companies in the 50 states, with California, New York and Massachusetts topping the list of states with the more employers offering this benefit. .
Read more: Fintech to streamline student loan repayment just raised $ 5 million funding round led by Bain Capital Ventures
Strive to provide a long-term solution, not a one-off solution
Besides employers, lawmakers are also working to help employees pay off student loans. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced a bill last week to allow employers to make matching contributions to a 401 (k) pension plan while employees pay off their student loans.
“Right now, generations of Americans are grappling with the crushing burden of student debt,” Wyden said in a statement. “They put off buying a home, have kids and are saving for retirement to pay off their student loans. As the cost of higher education continues to skyrocket, so does debt. Americans need to be able to save for retirement, even paying back. their loans. “
Wyden added that while he supports student debt cancellation, it is important to put “all options on the table” to ease the burden.
Poulin said he hopes more businesses will use Goodly’s service later to work on a sustainable student debt solution.
“I think, in many ways, what gets lost in all the noise about the forgiveness of student loans is what are we going to do in the long term that we can implement to resolve the debt crisis.” student? Poulin said. “Canceling student loans could be a one-time fix, but even though we have some level of forgiveness this summer, what are we going to do with the cohort of people entering the workforce with student debt down the road? “