Response to question "how much a CRNA really makes?"
I am a CRNA and the info I share is from direct knowledge, not hearsay.
Compensation (whether salaried or hourly) ranges from $80,000 to over $400,000. Before you get too excited, allow me to elaborate. The vast majority of jobs fall in the $100,000 to $130,000 range (base), and by the time you factor in some overtime (which is almost always required), you are somewhere between $115,000 and $150,000 (depending on how much you end up working.)
There are a few jobs paying as little as $80,000, but these are not common, and usually have other factors at play - not 40 hrs, maybe only days 7-3 (surgi-center), heavy supervision by an anesthesiologist, highly desired geographical areas (Florida, Colorado, etc.) On a regional basis, you may find that $80,000 is NOT abnormal. But on a national basis, $80,000 is NOT normal.
On the high side... I personally know a CRNA that is making over $450,000. This person works a lot, but the money is there. I will tell you that this is EXTREMELY ABNORMAL. As a matter of fact, I would be willing to bet that most CRNA's would state that this is a lie; but it is not. Should you count on getting a job making this kind of money? No. These are rare circumstances, very hard to find. But the key is... they are out there.
If you are planning on going to school and want to have a good idea of what to expect when you get out, then I would count on a number somewhere between $115,000 and $180,000 (beginning at the lower end and moving to the higher end with 2-3 years experience.)
One thing you do need to consider... the information that is available out there can be very misleading. There are so many options for CRNA's. W-2 income (where the employer pays half of you SSN/Medicare taxes) are lower; 1099 income (where you are responsible for paying all of your own taxes, and usually there are no benefits with these jobs) are higher numerical values, but by the time you factor in taxes and benefits, you are pretty much back to the same number as stated in the W-2 jobs. Some CRNA's do self-billing, where they bill for the cases that they do. Their income varies according to how many cases they do, as well as how well they get compensated for the cases they bill for (insured vs. medicare/medicaid).
Hope I have answered some of your questions.