I am probably the only one out of this thread that lives in Pinellas County, but we have a lot of Hillsborough and Manatee County students in the program at SPC. I don't think they give preference either way as to which county you live in, because this is the first I am hearing that.
Because so many people are going LPN to RN versus the traditional route of just RN, there are many more applicants then there used to be, so the program has made a few changes as far as getting in goes, from what I've heard. They still do not compete as far as GPA goes, but obviously if you have a higher GPA and all your pre-reqs are done, you'd be in no problem if they haven't filled all the spots. It's on a first come, first serve basis, so if your app is in way before the cut-off you may make it in the first time you apply. Once they fill the spots, they are now doing a lottery to fill any unexpected spots in case some people don't pass the background screening, drug test, etc.
Frankly, I have been a little disappointed in the program thus far. I am due to graduate in December and entering the last semester of the program. The LPN to RN portion is constantly changing their curriculum, the order they proceed as far as units throughout the semester, and powerpoint presentations, and nothing has seemed very organized. I am highly organized, almost to the point of OCD, so it makes me crazy! And just like any school, there are some instructors that give fantastic lectures, and others that read straight off a powerpoint and won't answer any questions at all, even if the material is contradicting.
I went over to Galen last week to sit in on a lecture to do a presenter critique for my speech class. I was very impressed not only with the facility, but also with the interaction between the students and this particular instructor (and the instructor wasn't doing this for our benefit, she had no idea why we were sitting in). Their lab for doing mock hospital work-ups is a much newer state of the art set up than what we have seen at SPC. And it's been worthless to even have it there, considering in two full semesters we have only gone into it once for maybe a 30 minute thing.
The powerpoints are posted online for us to review prior to lectures, but then you get to class and find out they changed the powerpoints that morning, and are going by the new ones that are just now posted. So you can't even follow along when it's a good instructor who gives a good lecture and be able to take notes because the slides are completely different.
A few of us have complained to administration about the way things have been and they responded that things would be better this semester. The program director has been great, she has received a lot of complaints, and said she completely understands the frustration we are experiencing and has said that there will be no changing of powerpoints once posted and no changing order from what the syllabus states. I am hoping that is true for the upcoming semester.
All I can suggest to you as far as programs go, is to get a tour of each of the schools you are interested in, and try to meet students here on this site to gain "insider info" on how they feel about their program, but talk to a few students of each, because everyone has their own opinions.
Good luck to you!