I think this question and answer is applicable to almost any career: It's pretty rare that you absolutely have to go to college, especially with the information available online. However, it's also pretty rare that you will have a high-quality career if you don't start it with a high-quality education.
My advice would be to invest in your career! This is a lifetime decision you're making and it's worth some sacrifice in the beginning. You will thank yourself for your efforts later when you have an awesome game design career!