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Is the student loan for CRNA programs manageable?

SRNA   (1,084 Views 8 Comments)

viprn21 is a BSN, RN and specializes in CCRN.

529 Profile Views; 37 Posts

So I got accepted into a CRNA program and start next August. I'm sure this is what I want to do, but I'm kind of balking at taking out over $100K. I have a mortgage, which was twice the price of the program, but it feels different because the house was an investment of sorts and I've heard horror stories about student loans (plus there's no guarantee I'll even complete the program and will still be stuck with massive debt). Other than the mortgage and a loan for a car that I've paid off, I've never had any debts...So I wanted to hear from actual CRNAs about what the debt is like. Is it worth the price tag?

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loveanesthesia specializes in CRNA.

1 Follower; 757 Posts; 13,170 Profile Views

Work and save like crazy so you don’t have to take loans the first couple of semesters. What’s the attrition rate of the program you plan to attend? Are you well qualified or meeting minimum requirements? Things you should think about.

 I would argue that earning the right to identify yourself as a CRNA is a better financial investment than any house you can buy. But it’s a lot of work and it’s not guaranteed you’ll finish. 

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ProgressiveThinking has 7 years experience and specializes in SRNA.

369 Posts; 12,977 Profile Views

In 6 weeks, I'll be graduating with ~180k loans because of interest (it compounded quickly during the program). My student loan payment will be $1350-2250 depending on how quickly I want to pay it back. My take home pay at my full-time job (not including call and mandatory OT) will be ~11k/month after taxes.

This leaves me with ~$9650 - $8750 take home/month in the state of California. This is more than I took home as a California RN

These numbers don't include the $$ I'm being paid for call shifts, and the OT built into my schedule. My PRN job will pay me 131/hr, and I intend to do a couple of extra 24 hour call shifts every month ($3160/shift) to put towards my student loan for a couple of years.

Was it worth it? Ask me in a few months after I've had some time off and I'm credentialed and working. I've learned a lot though and I don't think I could ever go back to the bedside as an ICU nurse.

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177 Posts; 4,315 Profile Views

OP must be too young to remember Occupy Wall Street, but this is a pretty safe bet as far as ROI. Imagine being 100k in debt with a bachelor’s degree in whatever and not being able to get a job.

When it’s all said and done I’ll owe for school about what I’ll still owe for my house. 

Similar to ProgressiveThinking, I plan to work a little extra for a few years and pay off the mortgage and school loans within 5 years.

 

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168 Posts; 2,036 Profile Views

I like the advice regarding the attrition rate of the school and your ability to make it all the way through (it's way harder than I originally thought).  As long as you can get through and scrape by until then, I think it is a good ROI.  If this is purely a numbers decision you can do the math and figure it out to determine how many years down the road being a CRNA will financially start to make sense, but if that is your main reason for going into the profession, you may find it very difficult to get through, you have to be extremely motivated.

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196 Posts; 5,439 Profile Views

Moderators, with all due respect, this should be moved back to the CRNA page.  The OP is asking a question of current CRNAs.  This thread makes little sense being in the SRNA section. 

 

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DreameRN has 10 years experience as a BSN.

103 Posts; 4,040 Profile Views

I'll likely have 200k in loans when I graduate. While this is daunting, as a CRNA typically you have a big shovel to pay things off.  

As an RN I had 60k. I made 60k roughly, and I was able to pay this off in 10 years. This along with things like buying cars, buying a house, putting my husband through school and other such things. I made paying them off a priority but not the highest

As a CRNA I will likely make 160-200k+. I'm able and willing to move, as well as attend a program known for it's ability to graduate independent providers due to good clinical rotations, plenty of regional and OB, and such things so the probability of me picking a job with great pay and benefits is high. (fingers crossed)

I plan to immediately refiance my 7-8% loans with either first republic if I am able, or sofi, earnest, or laural road as they typically offer CRNAs the lowest rates. I have seen 1.95% for first republic, and 3-4% with the others.  This will cut down the interest I am accumulating. I plan to look for a job with a sign on bonus if possible and all of that will go to the loan. My cars will be paid off, my house has plenty of equity when I sell (if the market holds), and I was comfortable living on how much I made as an RN. The goal is to just chuck all the money at the loans til they are gone.

Given these things, if I have a salary of 180k. 180k x .35 (taxes, SS, etc) =9750/mo AFTER taxes. I can pay 4k/mo on my loans comfortably, and still have 5750 to live on. And this does not consider my husbands income at all. And the fact that I will likely not need over 5k/mo to live on, and will probably pay more on my loans, and work overtime.  But doing the 4k/mo in this scenario has me paying off my loans in 6 years, at the original rate of 7.8%. This is why I am okay with higher loan amount.  

Your individual situation may be different, but if you are debt adverse and don't have much now, and your CRNA loan will be the only thing, you can knock that out in as little as 2 years if you are dedicated. Look at this prepayment calculator below, it lets you enter in all the variables, and see how fast you could pay off with different amounts, interest rates, and time frames.  Hope this helps.

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/prepayment.phtml

 

 

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

613 Posts; 4,276 Profile Views

I agree with much of the above and I speak as someone who owes 160K in student loans (starting when I had an associates degree adding over the last decade plus). All of this for a PMHNP rather than CRNA degree (still I'm getting offers approaching 200k as a new grad if I'm willing to move).  However, I would offer these cautionary points:

a.  I worked with two different individuals in Florida who made it well into their respective CRNA programs only to "fail out" in the clinical phase.  One had accrued well over 100K in debt by the time "he failed".  He was left with a legacy of having to work 4 and five day weeks (as an RN) just to tread water. The other person had accumulated less debt (around 60K) for CRNA school before she experienced the same situation.  Of note both of these individuals were in Florida (where physicians tend to have a less favorable impressions of NP's in general than many other states for a plethora of often complex reasons).  My point is that your clinical preceptors hold an enormous sway over your success in terms of their opinions of your "goodness of fit" for the job.  Contrast this to my psychiatrist clinical preceptor who although he filled out evaluations his opinion was only one (relatively minor) part of my grade.  There is something of an "OCD bias" among CRNA's (and MD anesthesiologists) which can make them challenging (in the same way some ICU preceptors can be OCD or type A if you will or having a proclivity to "eat their young" or seeing themselves as "guardians of the order" if you prefer).  By way of analogy early in my career I had two different ICU's basically "give me the boot"  to PCU, because they didn't think I was right for ICU (perhaps they were correct, but I found an ICU "home" and spent a decade there with at least moderate success).  However, if one of these "OCD ICU preceptors" had been a clinical instructor in CRNA school well then the outcome for me might well have been similar to my two coworkers who I referenced above.

b. Try to minimize your loans. However, if you are "willing to live with loans" then the payments need not be crushing.  My minimums are $670.00 on 160K for the first two years (but they go up every two years maxing at about $1300.00) and will take 30 years to pay with minimum payments.  However, there is the old "stay in school until you die" trick. That is to say if you take at least four or five hours in graduate credit (part time) you can defer your loans perpetually. Also, they can never take more than about 10% of your income in payments (thus if you defer the loans until retirement and your Social Security income was $2,000 per month then the most they could require in payments would be around $200 (probably less).  Keep in mind this is only true of FEDERAL loans, try to stay away from private loans at all costs as their terms can be exponentially worse.

c.  Some CRNA practices will pay your education in exchange to an agreement to "work for their company" for a term after graduation (often 3 to five years).  Keep in mind they will likely lock you in to a "below market salary" in exchange for their tuition/stipend assistance. Also, these deals can come with clauses that if you "fail" to graduate you might be liable for some or all of the assistance. Thus, attorneys should be consulted with any contract. Good luck.

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