Some great posts above. I am a drop-out myself after taking three semesters of art/philosophy from a small liberal arts college. I felt I got about all I could out of it and circumstances conspired to get me out as well. I received a large commission while still a student that gave me some freedom. And I got married and moved down south so my wife could finish school. The biggest influence on my work is from growing up with a great father who taught me how to work at his welding shop. Looking back, it was not that different from an old-fashioned guild environment. Except that I had zero exposure to art until high school. I think the most important thing is to just do the work. Build up a body of work, put together a great portfolio, and never stop learning. Read all the books you can and try and meet as many great people as possible.
To put it bluntly, very few people make a living solely from their work. I read one economic report that put the number in the USA at around 1000 at any one time. Seeing as how the census puts those claiming to be "artists" at over 2 million or so.... well, you get the idea.