Half of my friends work or are finishing up school, the other half laze about at home. It's actually distance more than time that keeps us from hanging out often. I'm usually the busiest one, though that may have changed this semester. We make the effort, whether it be for cosplay or just to watch a movie.
10-17k is actually more than I was expecting. Currently paying $15k/year, which is much less than the $35k I paid for during my first year up in Boston ($30k tuition + $20k room/board - $15k scholarship). I will owe about $90k when I graduate. The number is intimidating, but what I'm betting on is this: working hard while I'm young and relaxing when I'm older vs. working harder and harder my entire life until I'm burnt out. There are no guarantees, of course, but this path has a little more statistical certainty than most other paths.
You're right, though: family is important, especially a supporting one. I can't pretend to know your situation, but what I would consider is enroll as a part-time student at a cheaper local college and try getting at least the general requirements done (chances are that the credits will be transferable, though you should ask first of course), even if it means taking a single class per semester to keep costs down. At least you'll be getting yourself started. My dad spent nine years to complete his four year degree because he had to work full-time. It wasn't easy, but it got him out of the slums. I'm sure you can do the same or better.
Keeping it a secret for now. I need to finish it within the next couple weeks, but if it's successful, I'll let you know.
The AMV I made was, ironically, for a high school English project. Linkin Park probably reflected my musical tastes at the time. I've changed musical tastes several times now, the latest band I'm hooked on probably being Shanghai Restoration Project. Sort of a nice transition from listening to Yoko Kanno. Prior to that was Lisa Miskovsky, Massive Attack, Skillet, and Within Temptation. I'm always surprised when I find another Within Temptation fan. Not too many people I know have heard of them.
So, yeah. SAO to Within Temptation. I can see it. You'll do fine.