Female - 33 Years Old
A few things: Many of the responses here are right on, you should go the community college route and save yourself a lot of dough. Plus, this may seem a little harsh, but colleges get a lot of very smart students that simply cannot complete the work. So although you may have had great scores from high school, its likely that those will be outweighed by your only college record. This makes the community college route an especially good place for you, it will give you another chance to prove your determination and eventually expunge your academic record enough that you should be able to get into a good four year school.
As far as loans: you have the six month grace period as long as you are out of school. Once you have been out of school six months this time is up and you can never get it back - with the exception of current enrollment.
However, if you are only out of school for the summer, or any time less than six months, then you keep your six month grace period. For example, you could drop out in April as long as you were back in class before November, and the next time you were out of school, another new six month grace period would start again. You have several breaks as long as you never go over the six month line. Good luck with school, although the economy may be poor I am exceptionally thankful that I completed my degree.