Yes it is quite competitive in CA--a few in my cohort have been trying for a few application cycles, up to a year. Many are very qualified experience-wise: LPNs, RTs, CNA's, XRay Techs, Medics etc. While others are doing a total career change. Academically, also competitive as each cohort is only about 13 people. I can't speak for others but for myself I applied with a 3.8 pre-req GPA, and an 85 on the TEAS (I didn't finish the math section which pulled my overall down)--an 85 put me in the 95th% nationally and my science section (which I think they pay the most attention to) was in the 99th%. The TEAS isn't hard and I can make a bunch of recommendations for resources when you are preparing (if you want.) :)
Yes, FAR less expensive! Again, feel free to PM me if you want to keep in touch during your application process to WGU (if you decide to)-would love to help, if I can.
Best of luck Tiffany.