Thanks for reaching out. Yes, if you are able to show examples of projects where you can actually do the work, and have clean, well written code, it will matter less what your formal educational background is in some cases, with certain employers. There are some employers who have policies about hiring only people who have completed their bachelors degree, etc, but those are becoming less and less nowadays. As long as you can get the job done, and fit in with the rest of the company, you should be able to get several offers from companies out there in the marketplace.
I cannot tell you what to do regarding borrowing money to educate yourself, but my own personal decision has been to suffer through learning on my own before investing my time in something more costly. I need to see if I have the knack, patience, tolerance, mindset for coding before I take such an intensive and costly approach. Everyone’s situation is different, and I am sure there is tremendous value in one of those intensive bootcamps, beyond what the free ones offer, but think of it this way… you will likely spend the rest of your time as a programmer researching and looking up solutions on the web for yourself, so see if you can do that first, because no matter how much an intensive bootcamp might propel you forward, you will always end up relying on sources like google and stackoverflow, etc, for help. Those paid intensive bootcamps aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll likely come down in price over time, as more become available.
Yes, participating in open source initiatives is a good idea, and it’s especially good if you plan to work remotely in the future. If you can show some public repos of code or contributions to open source as part of your job applications, this will definitely go a long way, as long as your code is up to par.
I hope this answer helps. Remember, I’m only one person with my own thoughts and ideas, so I encourage you to ask around to other people and weigh everyone’s advice accordingly. I wish you the best of success David!