CRNA debt load, plus mortgage, kids, single income

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    I've been reading many of the threads here re: tuition debt load, but I still feel compelled to ask - is anyone else in this situation? I'm speculating about CRNA school. I'm an ICU nurse with four years' experience.

    I have a mortgage (not much equity). We're a single income home and we have kids. Everything depends on me. I have no other debts - no car loan, no tuition debt (thank God ADN programs still exist), minimal credit cards. Probably entering an RN-BSN program this year so we're talking at least two years before entry. Living in the Chicago area, it looks like school costs between $50k to $78k. I would need cost of living loans, I'm sure, for at least one to two years. That would be, I don't really know - $50,000 a year?

    So I'm looking at $150,000 to $170,000 in student loan debt before graduation. Looking at loan calculators, paying off that much in ten years would be $1700 a month or more! That's a mortgage payment! An SRNA friend tells me that his school maintains their new grads earn about $170,000 in Chicago. I don't know if they're just feeding him a line.

    Honestly I don't know - is the investment worth it? It's scary with everything hinging on my income - to go without income for two years, and accumulate that much debt. I'm pretty certain, barring tragedy, I'd graduate.

    How's the job field looking in 2013?

    Chris
    Last edit by simvee on Mar 21, '13 : Reason: adding work exp
  2. 22 Comments so far...

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    Thinking about what you will owe in loans once done with school is definitely a scary thing! I will be around $160,000 when done. It's almost nauseating to think about. But it is worth it in the end. I have days where I think, "What am I doing to myself?" Then I go back into my ICU prn to work a 12 and say, "Oh yes, this is why I'm in anesthesia school." You realize that you don't want to be that old grumpy ICU nurse that has been there for 25 years and is stuck there being miserable while all the young nurses go off to school. Honestly, it is a large chunk of change, but you can still live comfortably even if your loans are a mortgage payment. With what you make per month, you can pay down your loans quickly. Also, some hospitals will pay back some of your loans if you sign a contract to work for them. If being a CRNA is your ultimate goal, go for it.....you won't be disappointed!
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    Quote from simvee
    I've been reading many of the threads here re: tuition debt load, but I still feel compelled to ask - is anyone else in this situation? I'm speculating about CRNA school. I'm an ICU nurse with four years' experience.

    I have a mortgage (not much equity). We're a single income home and we have kids. Everything depends on me. I have no other debts - no car loan, no tuition debt (thank God ADN programs still exist), minimal credit cards. Probably entering an RN-BSN program this year so we're talking at least two years before entry. Living in the Chicago area, it looks like school costs between $50k to $78k. I would need cost of living loans, I'm sure, for at least one to two years. That would be, I don't really know - $50,000 a year?

    So I'm looking at $150,000 to $170,000 in student loan debt before graduation. Looking at loan calculators, paying off that much in ten years would be $1700 a month or more! That's a mortgage payment! An SRNA friend tells me that his school maintains their new grads earn about $170,000 in Chicago. I don't know if they're just feeding him a line.

    Honestly I don't know - is the investment worth it? It's scary with everything hinging on my income - to go without income for two years, and accumulate that much debt. I'm pretty certain, barring tragedy, I'd graduate.

    How's the job field looking in 2013?

    Chris
    Definitely scary to think about. However, depending on your age you have to look at the big picture. On the first day of class our PD put up on the white board a modest time line of the next 25 years. Then put an X on the spot that we would be done school. Actually seeing a visual representation really puts into perspective the small amount of time that will be taken up by school compared to working as a CRNA for the rest of our careers. Now using that same concept you have to look at the big picture as far as income. Yes it will cost a lot for school, but even if we low ball the salary and say $120K a year for the next how every many years you plan to work....well you get the idea.

    There are also other things you can do to help the cost. Is there any reason your spouse cannot work? You can also use retirement funds to pay for school (which I personally would not recommend). I know people who have gone through school living very modestly and continued to live the same way the first couple years of working as a CRNA and they were able to pay off their loans fairly quickly. You also have the advantage to know that if this is something you really want to do, you have the next few years to save up as much money as possible to limit how much you need to borrow.
    CPhT2RNstudent likes this.
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    yes I am in your exact same boat. My spouse doesn't work, we have three kids, and we homeschool (two are not provided well enough for in school for medical reasons). I keep thinking, maybe he could get a little, 16 hour a week job? But that is at minimum wage, he does not have a degree and has been the stay at home dad for 10 years. I am planning on making our bills to be at 3000 a month or less, including everything. We do not have mortgage, car, or credit cards. I have always worked, through
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    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Mar 23, '13 : Reason: added link title
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    Income-based repayment plans help, and at the very least, you can probably get the repayment term extended beyond ten years. I am walking into my second-career BSN program with a mountain of student loan debt already (three kids, a mortgage, and I am not working outside the home). I already have my MA and walked away from a PhD midway through my dissertation. Plenty of people think I'm insane, but I know what I want to do now, and it means getting an MSN, at least... probably a DPN eventually. Is it terrifying to add more debt? Yes. Do I think it will be worth it? Absolutely. I'm looking into options like military scholarships and such, but may or may not go that route. If you're willing to take on a service commitment (other than military), maybe look into the National Health Service Corps scholarship and/or loan repayment programs.
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    Try 300k on for total debt...that makes me want to drop an NG tube before I puke
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    denver you already have that much!!!!????
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    Quote from gabookworm
    f you're willing to take on a service commitment (other than military), maybe look into the National Health Service Corps scholarship and/or loan repayment programs.
    NHSC scholarship and loan repayment is not open to CRNAs. It is for primary care only service from what I read on their website.

    me
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    Yeah, it's nauseating to think about. But I try not to think about it too much. I'm working two jobs right now before I start school and I'm finally stashing away enough to be comfortable but I still need loans.

    Make yourself feel better and go check out job postings on gasworks. Minimum starting seems to be about $140K. Even taxed to death at 30% or 35%, you're still looking at a nice salary, enough to throw plenty at your student loans and enough for a mortgage and reasonable living expenses. I plan on tossing $3K at bare minimum each month towards loans once I'm out, and hopefully picking up some OT and getting them knocked out quickly.

    Some food for thought. Government loans are not a bottomless pit you can keep going back to. Aggregate limit for independent graduate students is ~$139K, with no more than $66K being subsidized (Stafford) loans.

    Alternative loans exist, albeit not many of 'em. Wells Fargo Medcap is a good program and I have a friend using them right now and she had no issues with getting the money she needed to move away for school. Stellar credit is a must, so make sure you've got all that in order.

    Don't let money discourage you. I don't know how anyone can be deterred from such an awesome career when the alternative is being at the bedside for another 30, 40 or 50 years LOL. It's totally worth every penny!
    rangersfanatic09 likes this.


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