i graduated with well over $40,000 in student loans. to that you can add a pretty hefty credit card balance from charging everything i could while i was in school, while making only the minimum payments.
for the first several years out of school, i paid a little extra each month on my loans, and magaged to buy a nice car and then a small house.
however, a few years ago, i decided that my #1 goal is to get out of debt. i cut my spending drastically and started working alot. i think, though, that if i had been better at money management when i first got out of school, i wouldn't be needing to work so much right now.
at the same time, if i had not borrowed that money to finish my education, i'd never be able to make the money that i am able to make right now by working a bunch of overtime.
when i look back on it, i lived so frugally when i was in school that it was hard not to "reward" myself when i first got out. and really, i didn't spend a bunch of money on stupid things. after all, i'm still driving that car and living in that house.
i remember when i was qualifying for the loan to buy my house. the loan officer remarked on how much my income had increased over a the three preceding years. i remember saying something to the effect of "well, isn't that what is supposed to happen when you graduate from college?"
in the end, i think it was a smart investment for me. however, it is really important to understand what you are doing when you take out those loans. i'd really have to question, though, anyone who accumulates >$50,000 for an rn degree.