I vote associates (of course, that's because that is what I am doing). In my area (the midwest) there is no disadvantage in hiring. My state board of nursing has a breakdown of the first time board pass rate for all the state nursing programs
; the best ones are some of the community colleges who consistently have greater than 90%. All the four-year programs are around 80, and then there are some community colleges that are lower.
I would also note that most of the Associates to Bachelors programs are now on-line. My local university even has an Associates to Masters program, mostly online except, of course, for your Masters clinicals.
I already have a bachelors in another field, and therefore I didn't qualify for any type of financial aid other than student loans. For me, the associates was cheaper and faster. Also, my community college clusters classes--all theory classes are one day, then two days of clinicals. Both university programs that I was accepted into had classes scattered all day every day. Basically I would have had to be on campus all day from 8-5, with big breaks inbetween classes. I have elementary school kids at home, and I have to work (I carry our insurance through my job), so the idea of having so much downtime was unappealing to me.
THere are advantages and disadvantages to both; but they are negligible. You will probably be happy with whichever you choose. Ultimately you are choosing between two good options. Monetarily, though, I hate to be in debt, and that certainly factored into my decision on where to attend; I am paying cash for my degree. I have tuition reimbursement (up to 1500 a year) through my employer--that covers almost all of it--and then the rest of the stuff I just pay for out of pocket. It's nice not to have to have any student loans, or continue to rack up that debt. It's hard to start out with tens of thousands of dollars of debt!!!!!