I am a current student at PLU SON, in my 2nd semester. I struggled with a lot of the same questions that you did during the application process. PLU is expensive, yes, but they are very generous with financial aid. While admittedly most of my assistance is loans, I did get a grant and a scholarship
too through them. Last semester financial aid covered tuition completely, this semester, not quite, but close. Not sure what your living situation is, though. I am lucky enough to have a supportive domestic partner who is able to support me financially as well as emotionally.
As to the program, by reputation it is a very good school. When asked what SON I am in, when I tell them PLU, they (health professionals) say that it is a good one. I believe that we get 1000 ish clinical hours, starting even in the first semester. Clinicals consist of working in a LTC facility the first semester, and being assigned a Chronic Heart Failure patient in your 2nd semester and acting as an advocate and point of contact, a relationship that spans until you graduate. I am looking forward to starting that!
The classes are informative and I am learning a lot. So far I'm very satisfied.
As to the length of the program, BSN's get summers off, summers/j term are for the accelerated postbac MSN students, and sometimes classes are offered if there is a need to repeat. Honestly though, having summers off is not a bad thing, really... gives you some time to decompress and let what you learn sink in.
I guess what it comes down to is what is your degree preference. Not sure about the other BSN programs other than UW and if they give you summers off ( I think they do, except for UW). You could get an ADN and be an RN in less time. I specifically wanted a BSN though, knowing the likelihood of going to grad school would be high (for me), so when I was declined by UW, I went for it at PLU.
The people are friendly too, other nurses in the program, both in your cohort and in cohorts ahead of us are very helpful and supportive, as are the staff and administration.
I know, it sounds like I am gushing and I guess I am! LOL I am just really excited for this semester and happy to be working towards my goals.
Good luck, hope this helps.