I have a slightly different take. I’d find a way to finish the degree, given how close you were to finishing. It will give you an edge when job hunting. However, as Pluto said, you will need a strong portfolio. You need to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities.
One thing that bothered me with what you have said is that you couldn’t do the coursework again. Can I ask Why?
Re your degree; where did you do your first one? Was it a private university? Without being too harsh, the standard of your work is not what I would expect from an almost graduated designer. Perhaps seek out a top-notch college and speak to them. See if they will accept you for the last year, based on your already completed modules. Find one that suits you and the direction you want to go. I don’t even know if this is possible, but it’s worth a question.
I won’t say that you can’t do it online, but you will join an army of self-taught hopefuls and make the task of finding a job, much harder. Those of us who have been doing this for some time can usually pick off the youtube educated a mile off (apart from the few who just have natural talent). What gives it away is usually the typography and the lack of depth to the work.
To me it looks like you could benefit from doing a year in a college that can give you a solid grounding in type. Most of your work shows that you have never really been taught the basics (heavy use of arial and machine condensing doesn’t help). The one piece I thought showed a bit of typographic solidity was the muscle milk packaging. I then checked. You were just using the existing packaging in your layout.
That said, when I look back to my work when I graduated, my use of type was not exactly brilliant. Something clicked a couple of years later and I just seemed to get the plot, but I’d had a very good grounding in the first place.
I am not saying this to dishearten you, but I think you could do with an intense year in a good university. It is extremely competitive out there and there are some very good people (with good degrees) you will be competing against. You need to give yourself the best chance you can. As I say, it’s not impossible without, but you would have to have a knock-out portfolio. Right now, if I were hiring, yours wouldn’t be top of the pile, I’m afraid.
The fact you have a $50k debt, to my mind, is immoral. Education should not burden young people with such outrageous debt.
Out of interest, can I ask what sort of other work, that was ‘nothing to do with your major’ did you not like?