US has $1 trillion in student debt; indebted lawyer laments his Chevy lifestyle

About 37 million people in the United States have amassed a collective $1 trillion in student debt, contributing to an increasing economic divide.

The Associated Press covered the economic burden in a story that features a lawyer’s plight.

In 2009, the median net worth for a household without outstanding student debt was $117,700, compared to $42,800 for households with student debt, AP says, citing a report co-written by William Elliott III, director of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas.

Glendale, Calif., lawyer Gregory Zbylut had nearly $160,000 in student debt when he graduated from Loyola Law School in Chicago in 2005. He pays $1,300 a month toward his law school loans.

Zbylut spoke with AP while traveling in his Chevrolet. “I’m sitting here in traffic,” he says. “I’ve got a Mercedes behind me and an Audi in front of me and I’m thinking, ‘What did they do that I didn’t do?’ ”

Zbylut says he’s been turned down twice for the kind of mortgage he needs for a large home, and he has delayed marrying his fiancée partly because of the debt. “I have more education and more degrees than my father, as does she than her parents, and yet our parents are better off than we are. What’s wrong with this picture?’’ he said.

Hat tip to Above the Law, which notes that Zbylut was lucky enough to graduate before the legal-job market worsened. “If he had graduated in 2009,” the blog says, “he might be washing the Mercedes, instead of sitting behind them in traffic.”

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