How long does it take for the school, in general, to evaluate transcripts after all transcripts have been received?
The transcript evaluators are fairly quick. After all transcripts have been received, the evaluation will be completed a few days later.
Once accepted into the program, can the student determine his/her start date or does the school decide that?
You can determine your start month, but the actual start date will always fall on the first of the month. So if you wish to start in September 2015, your start date would be September 1st.
I'm considering beginning the application process later this year. Is there any benefit to starting the application process so early?
I see no benefit to starting the application process so early since WGU changes its nursing program requirements regularly. If you want to start in the fall of 2015, I'd apply during the summer.
If you want to start in August 2015, apply at the end of May or beginning of June 2015. If you prefer a start date of September 2015, apply at the end of June or the beginning of July 2015. Personally, I applied at the beginning of March for a May 1st start date.