Damn...Sorry you are going through this, OrganizedChaos.
Honestly, you should consider your mother's advice and go back to school for your RN. RN = more job opportunities. Plus,
-with nursing schools adding classes to their curriculum every year or so, while increasing the tuition...
-and the so called politicians in charge of student loans...
I say get that RN license whenever possible.
Worried about taking out student loans...? There are nursing loan repayment programs, and there are programs that can pay for you while you are in school. True that is no guarantee that you will get into these programs, but it does not hurt to apply them.
Now, as to which RN route to go for...(Disclaimer: My 2 cents. Take it with a grain of salt.)
RN-Associate degree program: This program tend to be the cheaper RN route. Their students tend to do better clinical-wise compared to BSN or higher students, but these programs tend to have abysmal pass rates.
RN-BSN program: This is what hospitals want nowadays - thanks in part to "Magnet Status." There are some hospitals that are willing to pay for their Associate RNs' BSN education, but there are some that rather hire a RN-BSN from the jump.
RN-MSN (graduate entry) program: I would not advise this route, unless you do not have the money to go for the RN-BSN. Through this route, one can get enough Fedloan to pay for the program.