I am a second degree nurse, and I have the loans to go with it. When I graduated, I had about 96k from my best guess. Here is some information based off my experience. I know its a book, but I hope it helps someone else!
Most are federal loans (now called direct) those are the most ideal. With some federal loans, the government pays the interest while you are in school or deferment (subsidized). Federal loans are the most forgiving, allowing deferment/ forbearance for unemployment up to 3 years (my savior!) among other options. Federal loans come due 6 months after you leave school, whether it be graduation or not. I am not sure how they work as far as 'need' but i know the max is about 5500 per school year. For my sister completing her degree in accounting, this covered her full- time tuition and books at community college. There are also different payment plans such as graduated or income based (I believe if you do the income based payments for 10 years and there is a balance, they wave it... not 100% sure)
From my 1st bachelors, I have Perkins loans. They come due 10 months after you leave school. I know that these are need based, but I don't know if the government is still offering these. I took classes last fall to defer my big loans, so these deferred as well. I have yet to pay, but I don't see any thing interesting here.
My last type of loans are private med-cap loans. I took these to bridge the gap between federal loans and life in nursing school. I did a 1 year BSN and took out about 60k total. These loans are the WORST!!! In the words of the banker on the phone "similar to a mortgage." The interest rate is higher than the federal loans, and since they aren't backed by the gov't, interest accumulates while you are in school and in your 6 month grace period. On my loans, this is about 3-5k per quarter. If you don't pay the interest, it capitalizes, meaning your 'total' gets bigger and thus your payments go up. I was able to defer for school last fall, and received another grace period. As for a forbearance for unemployment... hahahaha! i was able to get a 2 month forbearance (still gaining interest to be capitalized, of course) and by the grace of god things are changing...
Also, remember that federal loans a perkins loans don't necessarily run a credit check to approve you for a loan. I can't remember if the private loans did... but they DO report to credit agencies, and each semester looks like a separate loan. So on my credit report, it looks like I have something like 10 installment loans. I have no idea how this actually affects everything, but it is something to consider. The only ways out of loans is death and repayment. Student loans are often not covered in a bankruptcy.
My loan payments total about $1200/ month... by most standards I should own a house, or a freaking amazing car... I have 2 pretty pieces of paper (3 if you include my license). My loans covered EVERYTHING in nursing school. I always joke that I am paying 6.8% interest on every beer I drank. If you can avoid this, then you loans WILL be manageable after graduation. I am BLESSED to have parents that support me and allow me to live rent free. I struggled for 18 months to find a full-time permanent job, but moving wasn't an option because i can't afford rent/ utilities on top of my loans. Last week I took a position making WAY more than I had ever expected. I now hope to make double payments on my loans so I can actually buy a house, and be able to buy a car when that time comes.
When I was 18, I didn't know any of this. I took out loans because it was the only way for me to go to college. I had AMAZING scholarships and grants through my school. I took out my 5500 federal, plus 4000 perkins and my parents paid my rent and utilities. I worked 2 jobs to pay my living expenses (read party expenses).
My advice would be to get through school as quick as possible. I truly believe that we must start with the end in mind and work from there. I know I made the best decision I could have at the time. I don't regret taking on so much debt. It's been a crazy emotional roller coaster, but it has allowed me to achieve my dreams!