So then I realized that University of Chicago is actually an option for me. Being a private school it IS more expensive, but it's one of the best schools for astrophysics, and it would be silly for me to shoot for a pretty-good school instead of a great one. BUT my credits from MATC probably won't transfer properly there, which would be a really serious problem.
So... That would mean moving to IL sooner, and starting classes somewhere there instead.
I still need to do more research to see if UC accepts students from City Colleges of Chicago, but so far that looks like my best option.
So v5.7 is this: Finish my Accounting certificate at MATC and graduate May 2012 (or maybe Aug 2012 if I have to). Find a bookkeeping job (or some other office job) in Chicago and move there and live in the city for 6 months and establish in-district residency for whichever CCC school seems best for the Baccalaurate Transfer Associate in Science program. Then start at CCC in Jan 2013, start at UC Jan 2015 or Sept 2015 (depending on stuff), graduate, go to grad school etc (where? I dunno. As long as I'm shooting big here let's say MIT).
I know some of my friends will be sad to hear I'm thinking about moving out of Madison - but I've been stifled here for awhile. The only thing that has kept me here lately has been a combination of fear, and really not wanting to leave Peter and my friends. But Chicago is not that far away, and I would probably still visit Madison a lot, and Peter and I can find a way to make things work I hope.
Well, we'll see. I have a year to figure it out.
Edit: I'm also looking into other options for grad school, just 'cause. And this one jumped out at me: UCSC Science Communication Program.