I saw your post just as I was getting on a long flight, I am guessing that my friend and fellow mentor Adam has already responded as he is the Wyatt Earp of the forum, but I am going to give you my take on things as well.
In short, no, it is absolutely not impossible for you, but there are some choices and maybe some sacrifices that you are going to need to make, at least in the short term.
The vast majority of airline pilots today come from civilian backgrounds, the military simply does not turn out the number of pilots that it did at the height of Vietnam and the Cold War. I would say that 75% of the pilots that I fly with are civilians. That is a very unofficial number, but is based on my experiences. In fact, all three of the mentors on this forum come from a civilian background (at least as far as flying is concerned). Most pilots that I fly with got their training through either mom and pop type flight schools or the larger academies like ATP.
On the degree front, yes and no. The regionals do not require a degree at all. Pilots get hired at the regionals all day long without college degrees. At the major level, yes, you absolutely need a four year degree. There are stories of people getting in without one, but as a general rule a degree is required. The good news is that after you get hired at a regional you will have several years to work on one and there are many schools that give a considerable amount of credit for having your pilots licenses. On the other hand, you might decide that you are comfortable being a captain at a regional airline and decide to stay there, there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
Finances can be a bit tough. Of course I have no idea what your monthly obligations are, but it is tough for anybody to quit work altogether and go train for six months. Basically your options are to go to the flight school at Chesapeake Airport or Hampton Roads Airport and plug along there while working, however I can tell you from personal experience that it will be “plugging” at best. It took me two years to get my private license at CPK, it should have taken six months. Things like instructor availability, broken airplanes, etc kept holding me back. I was so fed up by the time I finished there that I decided to seek out an academy type school for the rest of my training. A cousin’s recommendation led me to ATP.
Yes, I think that a fast paced program like what ATP offers can get you to the airlines in 36 months. You will likely spend about six months in training with ATP, then the rest of your time flight instructing to build the 1,500 hours necessary for the airlines.
Before you get any crazy ideas, don’t even think of commuting back and forth from Virginia Beach to Richmond to do the program or to instruct there. As you well know, that traffic is awful and will consume much of your day.
For you the next step should be to take an introductory flight. Get up in the air in a small airplane with an instructor and get a feel for what flying is all about. There is nothing quite like holding the yoke in your hands to help settle your mind as to whether you want to fly for a living or not. You can schedule an introductory flight for a pretty reasonable cost at most local flight schools, or with ATP in Richmond. In the meantime dig through this forum, especially the “Flying the Line” section, there are many good articles on there that will give you a good idea as to what this career is really like. I also highly recommend getting your fiancee involved in this process, show her the forum and get her reading, she is along for the ride too.
Keep asking your questions here, you will find that we are all pretty fast to respond and offer no nonsense advice.
By the way, I grew up in Virginia Beach, graduating from Princess Anne in 2000. How long have you been in the area?