Already took mine through the Red Cross (Inland Empire chapter) and they charged $1900 for a 5 1/2 week class. As far as why the wide variance - part of it has to do with whether they're for-profit or not, the length of the class, and whether they supply your materials or not. In my case, the $1900 covered all materials, testing, certificate fees - everything. All I brought to class was a notebook, 2 black pens & myself.
My niece took a CNA training course through the local ROP. Hers cost about $1350, and went for 9 weeks - unlike the Red Cross, part of the program was paid for by state/county funding, which explains the variance. Longer course, more thorough coverage of the course materials, and everything was supplied as well.
Through the local community college you have to buy all your supplies (books, scrubs
, stethoscope, sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff & gauge), shoes, etc.) but the cost of the class tends to be a lot less - about $800, for a 10 week course. If you can qualify for a BOG(Board of Governors) waiver you can probably knock that down by quite a bit. Assuming you can get in, which is not easy - limited amount of space in the class.
Best of luck to you - good thing is that even with the down economy finding CNA work isn't too difficult. Took me about 6 weeks to get a job at an LTC.