I used to struggle with this concept a lot - is it really worth it to be shelling out 1/4 the cost of some homes for an education (and just for a bachelors!) to get more money per check?
I've really struggled with trying to keep my school, or instead choosing to go after certificates only. The thing I finally settled on was if I can get a degree, couple it with experience and then throw in certifications to keep myself fresh, then I've got a three-punch special that most others don't have. I'll figure out how to pay the loans off, I always do for everything else, so it's just going to be patience.
The one thing that really changed my mind was the thinking I had that as long as I do well in school, get my degree and such, there's not much else I can look forward to. I was pleasantly reminded that there ARE people who recognize academic merit, and now I'm able to add more to my resume because of things like Honor Societies, etc. Those things can really stand out, as much as a certification can. With the Honor Society, I've got a visual clue that I know what it takes to be successful, on top of everything else.
My advice would be to get certs first, but to keep yourself on a path of lifelong learning, go for a degree, even if its just an associates. There are things I am learning in my college courses that I never thought I'd use, but alarmingly enough, I've found uses for them the minute the class taught me something. Learning is awesome, knowledge is power, and it feels good to know stuff.