I live on the West Coast and the starting salary is often between 95 and 105k and sometimes higher.
My situation is a little different though. I currently work in a specialty (as an RN) and have a good chance of being hired with my current employer so pay will likely be on the higher end with opportunity for some tuition reimbursement.
As far as what I think a good loan amount for FNP school is ....well that is going to be different for each individual. I agree that 80k is ridiculous, but the amount your willing to spend will just depend on whether or not you're the main source of household income, where you live and the need for NPs in your area, your goal for how fast you plan to pay back your loans, scholarships, employer contribution/repayment etc.
I chose Georgetown because I live almost 2 hours away from the nearest brick and mortar program and I didn't want to spend 4 hours, 3 or more days per week just driving to and from class not including clinical. I also knew I wanted a school that helped find preceptors. I decided to choose a program with a well known and well respected name so that the quality of my program wouldn't come into question. I also wanted a rigorous program that will prepare me well for clinical practice. (Btw, I'm not saying that there are not other well respected online programs, I'm just saying Georgetown is the one I chose to go with).
It's a huge decision, and it took me a while to finally decide what was best for my family. I made sure I knew every detail I could about the program before starting. Georgetown isn't lying when they tell you it's 8 hours of study time per credit hour. It really is and this doesn't include time spent in class.
Oh and the first semester courses are patho and advanced reseach (in the part time program). The Patho course opens 4 weeks early because of the volume of work it involves so you should have plenty of time to work ahead. I personally did not do all the reading as the asynchronous lectures are where most of the test questions come from. I only really read when I needed clarification. (The patho professor who does the asynch lectures is really good). The patho book is Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children by McCance.
Best of luck with your decision!