The one think I learned about the TCN is that the guaranteed financing is ONLY for the TCN costs (study guides, "acadmeic advising"). In addition there is no guarantee that you will be accepted by the schools
simply by signing up with TCN. The schools each have their own admission criteria that you must meet, while the TCN adviser may determine that you are qualified the ultimate decision is up to the school.
The issue with Excelsior whether you enter via TCN or independently, is that there is no federal financial aid available for the LPN-RN program as it is not a distance/online education program but a "test out of the requirements" program. With limited clinical experiences aside from the exam, some states will not accept an ASN graduate (LPN-RN (ASN)) as qualified for NCLEX/license in the state. This is something you need to check with your own board of nursing to determine if it is acceptable or not.
Honestly if you Google TCN and complaints the majority of the early links are complaints from individuals who may not have been suited for an independent learning situation (online/distance learning) and did not bother to read the contract that they signed with TCN. Some feel that if they never bothered to start the coursework then they should no longer be indebted to TCN. Or they didn't realize that when they gave the TCN rep a voided check they were agreeing to monthly payment debits from their checking account and did not budget for such charges. Some of these issues can clearly be avoided by asking questions, and reading all the contract documentation PRIOR to signing (perhaps not signing right away and taking a few days to review the information before making a decision).
Excelsior's website when I last checked did not recommend using a third party vendor for admission/academic support at their school (they did not mention specific publishing vendors but TCN is not the only one).
As far as the financing, sometimes TCN can include the school testing fees, course fees etc in the loan they obtain for you, in addition to the TCN advising/study exam prep guides. But the loans are private with interest rates in the 15%+ range, and do not fall under the federal regulation for government student loans (Stafford, Perkins, PLUS, etc.) and are not subject to the consolidation loans or deferment/forbearance options of the federal (much lower interest) loans. TCN programs are not educational programs nor are they a school so there is no federal/state financial aid available to pay for the TCN portion of your costs.
Either way, by using TCN to sign up for a distance/online education program, the school fees for courses, assessments, exams, etc are not "Free". You are paying for them in your loan payments (if they are included) plus interest.