There are a ton of threads here with great advice. Looking back to the man I was years ago when I decided I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming a CRNA, there are a few things I would tell this man, based on my own decisions and mistakes, and from observing others along the way. And before anyone bashes me for being hypocritical or judgemental, THIS is my whole purpose for reinvinting the wheel/rehashing another thread on this subject.... I'm speaking from my own experiences and observations. I'm not right, I just have my opinion.... and it can change.

My main focus here is regarding money and paying for school, but like many threads, I am sure the focus will change, so I want to start with a few things in mind in addition to money.

If you are not YET a nurse, or already a nurse and thinking about becoming a CRNA, understand you are embarking on a long journey.

Get your finances in order. (If you are married, this includes your spouse's finances, too.) This is a huge statement. Not having any debt is an understatement. Have all your credit cards paid off and stop using them. Cut them up and never use them again. Have your vehicles PAID for, and make sure they are reliable (have them maintained, not go out and buy a new car that's more reliable). Don't plan on buying a house while you are in school. If you already have a house note, then that's understandable IF it is affordable without you having to secure more debt to continue paying it (Like student loans).

If you have student loans from a previous degree, pay them off. If you are getting ready to apply to nursing school, do everything you can to avoid student loans. This may require you to work during school. It may require you to work 100 hours a week while going to school part time, and your spouse may have to do the same. And once you get your nursing degree, you may have to work 100 hours a week still, along with your spouse (living the same lifestyle) to save up for anesthesia school. Avoiding student loans is simply the best option if you can.

I believed it would not have been possible if I did not take out student loans. However, looking back I think differently now. It was about 1.5 to 2 years between the time when I made my decision to pursue CRNA school, and when I started my BSN clinicals. Had my wife and I saved up in just those 2 years, I could have paid for tuition without any student loans (or major change in lifestyle). I could have paid off my truck much sooner, stopped contributing towards my retirement (hard to do), and going out to eat and putting all that money towards tuition savings.

I worked while in school, but I could have worked more hours and still made the same grades.

Once I was a bonified RN (BSN), even with studnent loans, I could have worked a few more years, saved more, paid off my student loans, and paid for CRNA school. It would have been even easier, obviously, to save for CRNA school without the prior student loans (which only snowballed into a six figure student loan amount after CRNA graduation.)

If you are starting just now pursuing this dream, get off on the right foot. Have your debts paid OFF (excluding the mortgage if it's reasonable), have an well stocked emergency fund, and have your tuition paid for with cash from your savings (not your emergency fund) and scholarships. It may take more time, but IMO it would be well worth it, rather than having a huge chunk of your paycheck going to pay off these loans.

And trust me, I did all the calculations with taking out the loans, adding in the years of lost income, and calculating how i'd come out ahead.... even putting more towards retirement versus the loans (hoping for a bigger payoff in retirement, than the savings in paying off student loans early). It all makes sense on paper. But now, I feel different about it. I've listened to 2 or 3 CRNAs calling in to the Dave Ramsey show with six figure student loan debt, and even with the large income he says, "act like your house is on fire and get them paid off. it's an emergency!" And I tend to agree.

If you're at a point where it's too late (already in school and taking out loans), there is still hope. I'm not trying to make you feel bad or dumb. I'm speaking to that young college student who is already planning on taking on debt to pay for school.

Also, this includes your spouse's debt, or your spouse buying a new car, having car loans while you are planning on school. Your spouse's debt is also your debt, and it is included in the above paragraphs.

Now, I have to go log in my student loan account and make yet another payment.