In terms of applying, I paid $430. $200 to Pearson VUE and $230 to the MA BON. You've listed the BON fee and the application fee. They are the same.
I was not fingerprinted, but when you submit the application, i believe that they run a background check. Once your application is reviewed and approved by the BON, they notify Pearson. Pearson sends you your authorization to test (ATT), a code that you need in order to schedule the NCLEX. I received my ATT about 3.5 weeks after submitting my application to the state. I have heard of people having issues like unpaid child support or parking tickets, which delayed the approval process. Not sure if this is true, but definitely something to look into.
in terms of applying to Pearson and the BON-I believe that you can apply to Pearson anytime. My school informed us that we could not submit our application to the BON until (at the earliest) our technical graduate date/date of degree conferment. My school sent to the BON a certificate of graduation (COG)which, essentially, confirms that we attended and completed their program; this is why I believe you aren't able to apply to the state until you've technically graduated. It doesn't matter if you haven't received the physical copy of your degree by the time you apply. If your graduation date is May 12, then that's the earliest date that you can apply to the state. The state also needs a copy of your transcript.
my school offered info sessions regarding the NCLEX. Check with your school.
also, the $430 did not include the cost of sending my transcript ($13). The COG and transcript had to be sent directly to the school. So I technically paid $443 just to apply. That doesn't include my prep program. I ended up using UWorld. I bought the 3-month subscription for about $139. As I was paying close to $500 to apply, I couldn't justify spending another couple of hundred dollars on a prep class. Uworld had amazing rationales. I answered, I believe, all of the question bank (about 2,000 questions). I'm not saying not to go with another course if that's what works for you. But finances play a big part, and with the amazing things I'd heard about uworld, it only made sense to go with them.
Best of luck to you!
sorry, had to resubmit this once I realized that I'd made some typos. Good luck!
and also-as of October 2017, Massachusetts' BON no longer mails out paper RN licenses. A few days after I passed, I got an email from them informing me that I've met the criteria of becoming an RN and they gave me my license number. I just don't have a physical copy.