A couple more things on the price.Any thoughts on an inexpensive first boot?
There was a guy who attempted Everest multiple times, and he was on a budget. He skimped on gloves on one of the early attempts, and ended up losing a finger. I remember him kicking himself to the effect of, "Why didn't I spend $100 more on gloves? It seems like such a small amount compared to a finger."
Now, of course it's wise to consider, like you are doing, that just because a boot costs $250 doesn't mean it's worth $250. What if a $100 standard boot offers superior protection? Believe me, I perform this calculus with practically everything in my life. "Do I need a $180 tire, or will a k761 do it for me?" "Do I need the $30 wind guards for my barkbusters, or can I make better ones with a $3 plastic trash can and some zip ties?" It's totally valid. But given that motorcycle boots are special-purpose designed and built for a motorcycle crash, it's unlikely that a non-moto boot will outperform it in a motorcycle crash. But it might... Will the $100 boot be good enough? Well, that all depends on how you plan to crash it.
And I at least know if I end up in the hospital with a crushed ankle, I did all I could to protect it, and I won't be out of commission wishing I'd spent $100 more on boots.
Before I got my bike, I told myself this: "You are required to spend $1200 on safety gear. So hurry up and spend it." And I did (I might have spent a little less, but it was about a grand—boots were $250). Lots of places give you a discount if you just passed the MSF course, so use that. Some will let you apply it retroactively to a point.
The deductible on my health insurance is $4000, so I prefer to stay out of the emergency room if at all possible, because it's going to cost me $4000 the minute I get there—more if it's out of network. With that in mind, the gear could easily pay for itself in a single crash. Your insurance situation might be different.
For the course, I wore my hiking boots. It's what I had, and they said it was OK, so there we are. And it was fine for the class. Heck, $20 work boots from Target are probably fine for the class, and any other time you're riding less than 20 MPH on an asphalt closed course with a lightweight 250 CC bike.