This is a question that I get pretty often, and I'd like to start this by saying I honestly have no idea. It's such a hard thing to gauge due to there being so many external and internal parameters that there's no do-all end-all answer. I'm still not sure if Art School was completely worth it even for myself. If I don't know, surely I must not be the right person to ask.BUT
I can provide you with some tips from experience about things you could consider, should you be considering higher education. (And by that, I'm speaking about full four-year style colleges that offer full-time curriculum for a Bachelors or Masters degree.)
Now, as I mentioned above, this is truthfully a touchy subject. I don't want to be held liable for ruining anyone's future. So take what I say as opinion, not fact. Also my opinions come from being raised within a middle-class family. Not YOUR family.
I'd also like to take this moment and disclaim I wrote this very late at night while watching Top Gear and feeling very drowsy. I think this all makes sense, or something.
Don't go to Art School just to get your degree like it's some right-of-passage ritual like College has become in the USA. You're coming near to the end of High School or something, you're expected to go College right after. You're interested in art, so you decide it would be a good idea to make it your major. But is it really something you're interested in deep enough to warrant spending tens of thousands of dollars on? Unless you're one of the lucky few to get a free ride, you will without a doubt have substantial student debt by the time you graduate, (IF you graduate.) In my opinion, going to art school for reasons not related to career/commercial media learning is a complete waste of your time and money.
(It's not uncommon to see the type of art in that previous link in schools. Sorry, I just don't think you need to spend $20,000 a year to produce introspective thesis work like THAT.) Simply put, I don't think personal enrichment shouldn't cost you a small fortune. You'd be much better off going to college for a more lucrative skill, something else that interests you, and developing your personal art alongside it with self discipline and continual motivation. If you ever want to hit it off as a big-name fine artist, determination and studying can make you every bit as successful as a college degree -- whatever you need that for in something as broad and amorphous a topic as "fine art" anyway. Something that could be an even better idea is to look for someone who could take you on as an apprentice. I can't speak for cost about that, but the quality of instruction you'd get could be immense, and WAY more personal. Either that, or make a friend who does what you want to do. It can happen!
However, if you're looking to get into the fields of a more industrialized art, such as graphic design, animation, illustration, or photography, you might just want to put some thought into just how much your interest in the topic as a career weighs against the cost and hardships of actually GETTING there. Hear me out: it's no easy task. You gotta make sure you're up for the battle to the winners circle.
Just like Fine Art, you don't always need a degree to actually be successful in the industrialized art world. One will definitely help you along, especially to get crucial experience-building internships, but it's not a 100% do-or-die required. It's not 100% uncommon for some college students to find their skills have outgrown the capacity of what their school covers, in which case they'd best consider arranging a meeting with their department heads to figure out whether it's a good time to leave before they rack up more needless debt. Artists do not have the same trials as, say, a business student where their grades make up a pretty good bit of their resume. They don't have the benefit of a PORTFOLIO. As an artist, your portfolio is a direct "Here's the facts, folks," tool that says everything about you. If your portfolio impresses, (really impresses,) you don't need a degree. If you can prove you can do it, they'll want you for it. (Edit: Though every employer is obviously different. Some people get lucky through connections. Some don't. A good looking resume never hurts. Having a degree definitely adds a gold star -- but it depends on who's looking.)
Now, a lot of that may sound pretty "anti-school," but it's really not. It's really something that applies to those who have the drive and motivation themselves to skip it entirely. It's meant for those who may not know what they want to do yet, to consider that a completely AIMLESS entry into art school can be dangerous and damaging especially if you're one of the many who, by their senior year, STILL don't know what they should be doing, or want to be doing. (That's a scary experience. No joke.)
However, if you are the type who wants to enter the industry, accepting the hardships, is genuinely intrigued by the process, has a direction and major in mind, and can't wait to get in there hands-on with everything, then by all means, you have every reason to go to art school. If you remain proactive, you will make friends there, countless professional contacts, you WILL have an experience that would be hard to repeat again at any point in your life. You need to make every best use of every little bit of it you can. Squander nothing. Because it will do nothing for you if you do nothing for it.
That said, definitely do your research and talk to people who graduated from the school you're looking to attend. (Really, email them. They're not hard to find through google or through the school's established alumni listings. They'll be more happy to help you than you think.) Make sure you're going to a school that caters best to what it is you want to be doing as a career. Look at current working professionals in the area of what you'd like to be doing. Where did they go? (If they went at all.) Is it feasible for you to do the same?
Remember that in the art world, the quality of your instruction can be every bit more important than the degree you get at the end. Don't think about the degree. Think about YOU. If you go through college, learn nothing, and get a degree as a pat on the back, did you really wind up with something worth keeping? At what cost?
And last but not least, DO. NOT. RUSH. IT. If you're JUST getting out of high school and you're REALLY not sure what you want to do yet, but you're REALLY sure you want to go into art school, don't rush in and make the wrong decisions. You have time. Breathe. Get a summer job. Think about it. Research it. Make an informed decision when you KNOW it's what you want to do. You'll thank yourself later for not plowing through, crashing, then burning.
Edit: What this really comes down to is the fact that art school, like many schools, is terrifyingly expensive. Much more than many kids realize, and they end up tallying horrifying debts. If it were affordable for everyone, I'd wholly suggest everyone go to art school. But this is not the case. For your own protection, give it good thought, and do your research as to whether or not it's for you.
Agree, disagree, whatever you like!
(by the way, please don't ask me which schools are good. I seriously can't tell you that.)