I accumulated more debt than I'm comfortable with during school. But, I justify it by reminding myself that there are few degrees you can get, or professions you can enter where you can be sure of a job anywhere in the country, in any city, at any time besides nursing. I may be up to my eyeballs with student loans, but at least I know I will have steady income for as long as I can physically work. There are a lot of people with degrees that they find to be hard to use in the real world. Also, there are few professions as flexible as nursing. I can work days, nights, weekends, no weekends, 12 hours, 9-5, in hospitals, clinics, offices, where ever. If I want to pick up and move, I know I won't have trouble finding work where ever I choose to go. If I get bored with a specialty, I could learn another. I think it is a meaningful career - though it means something different to all of us, and there are pitfalls. BTW, it's very likely that your friend could easily make 100K a year. Especially if he's single and can travel.