As much as I love my school, Academy of Art University, it's not necessary to attend a special art school in order to learn about art. Because of the internet, there are plenty of resources available for those who are self-motivated and eager to learn.
I'll start with some of the cheapest resources, ending with more expensive ones:
1. Blogs, podcasts and livestreams. Most professional artists keep blogs, and these things are free treasure troves of information. The best blogs don't only show off art, they also give tips about the business of art and introduce you to new resources. Try starting with Muddy Colors, a super informative blog run by several professional painters and sculptors: muddycolors.blogspot.com/
For podcasts, check out Chris Oatley's artcast: chrisoatley.com/category/podca…
Also check out the Awesome Horse Studios livestream: www.awesomehorsestudios.com/
2. Online tutorials and videos. I basically taught myself digital painting by combining techniques I found in tutorials here on Deivantart. Not all tutorials are created equal, but I recommend studying a bunch by your favorite artists and taking whatever you find helpful from them.
3. Online figure drawing tool: use this website for an hour twice a week, and you've basically got yourself a free figure drawing class: artists.pixelovely.com/
4. Books. Go check out your library's store of art books. My recommendations are two books by James Gurney: "Color and Light" and "Imaginative Realism." These books are jam-packed with knowledge, beautiful paintings, and some fun stuff about designing vehicles and creatures.
5. Magazines. Whether you're using traditional mediums (International Artist magazine) or digital (ImagineFX magazine), there's a magazine out there for you. These magazines often feature step-by-step tutorials, but the drawback is that the tutorials focus on very specific things, such as "how to paint a romantic sunset scene." They're good for inspiration and staying on top of trends and new artists; they're not so good for learning basics.
6. Community College. Sure, they probably don't offer advanced concept art courses, but community colleges are good for basic drawing and painting, plus they're dirt cheap. This is a good way to get in some live figure drawing.
7. Online Art Schools. I haven't personally used these yet, but they're worth looking into. Although the prices are definitely higher than a community college, it's still cheaper than going to a private art university. Many of these online schools boast some pretty well-known teachers. A recently launched online school, the Lamppost Guild, www.lamppostguild.com/
has an inexpensive Introduction to Illustration class taught by Justin Gerard. Kevin Keele kanyn.deviantart.com/
and Stephen Silver stephensilver.deviantart.com/
teach at Schoolism www.schoolism.com/
. CG Master Academy www.cgmwonline.com/
is more concept-art oriented. (Note: although my school, Academy of Art University, offers classes online, I don't recommend them because the tuition is so high.)
8. Mentorship. This is kind of a new thing that artists are doing online. It varies from person to person, but basically it's private art tutoring. As you might expect, it's quite expensive and is best for intermediate artists rather than beginners. But if your favorite artist is offering mentorship, it might be worth saving up for. Check out Noah Bradley's online mentorship: www.noahbradley.com/blog/mento…
or Charlie Bowater: charlie-bowater.deviantart.com…
None of these resources can teach you everything – it's important to use a combination of these to get a well-rounded skill set. And remember, there is no replacement for pure quantity of time spent drawing. Don't let yourself get stuck on trying to learn the "right" way to draw - just keep drawing!!