Hey cosmo! It sounds like you are on the right track! many people spend a lot of time/effort to get in. I came back from having a low GPA (did not do well in previous engineering degree) and took multiple graduate level science classes to boost my GPA. I would recommend working on this instead of applying to so many schools. I hear you with wanting to cast a wide net, and I think that wise, but you might also allocate that money toward taking classes!
Most accepted applicants have 3-5 years experience, leadership on their resume (AACN board, unit council, preceptor and/or charge, volunteering, etc.), multiple certs, multiple shadowing experiences, great references, advanced coursework in math/science after nursing degree.
Not trying to be overwhelming/discouraging just trying to give an accurate picture of the applicant pool. I would recommend contacting the schools and finding what they are looking and gauging where you might have a better chance.
I was once told that any applicant can have one hole in their resume. Yours currently has two, GPA and experience. Again, not trying to be discouraging, just trying to be real. I felt the same way in your shoes, a few years back, but know that it is still totally possible! Start working on classes, get some more certs, BLS, ACLS, PALS (for sure), then CCRN, TNCC next. Then do CSC, CMC and ENPC. Get a few grad level science classes under your belt to show you can succeed at the grad level (gotta get A's), then you will probably be up over that 3.0 mark (try to be smart about calculating your potential GPA with which classes offer the most credits that you think you can succeed in). Keep grinding to get the best ICU experience you can, do some leadership work on top of that and you will be going in the right direction.
If you can drop some dough on classes and apply to all 40 schools, that is great, but you might not be able to devote as much time to classes and applications to do your best in each, if you are spreading yourself more thin. But you know yourself and your capabilities more than anyone else.
I hope this is helpful, you can do it! Just trying to offer the advice I wish I had 4 years ago! Good luck!