I know this is way after your initial post, but just wanted to add something in case you were still wondering.
Think about your first nursing job......you didn't make a ton of money right away, you had to put in your time. Those NPs who say they made more as staff RNs were working for years to make what they made, plus many probably worked some weekends and/or nights if they were in acute care, so add in their shift differentials plus pay raises over so many years and of course they made the same as NPs starting out do. However, it's the same with NPs, no one makes $100,000 as a brand new NP in their first job, you have to put in your time. For example, with my job, I am not making $100,000, but my starting salary is $84,000 (I work in a CT stepdown/ICU), and with the yearly raise in my contract that they've promised, I will be making that much after five years, so if I can be patient and stick it out at this job, it will be worth it in no time. I think too many people think that by getting their NP they will make six figures off the bat, but you need the experience to get that type of salary, it's like that anywhere in any type of job.
Swampcat is right, once you graduate, if you sign up for the National Health Service Corps (Home - NHSC
) and agree to work two to four years in an area-of-need, the government will pay off most if not all of your student loans. It's not great pay in these areas, but just work for two years, pay off your loans, then get a higher paying job elsewhere. You will be able to negotiate a higher salary with two years experience, and will have no student loan payment to worry about. I can't do it because I have a toddler and husband with a job he can't leave, and there are no jobs of need in my area, but I know people who have done it and loved it.
Hope this helps your decision!