That was what I was originally thinking, in full disclosure, I currently make around $35,000, which for a 19 year old is a fantastic wage, at least, compared to what I have made in the past.
I have been talking to a close friend of mine who attended UCLAN and with the exception of some of the more complicated algebra and (quite a lot of) the compiler unit, I have the majority of the first and second years covered already, but the problem really is the piece of people to prove this, will the Googles and the Microsofts of this world even consider my application with the absence of a degree on there?
When I first started (without my degree) I was making $40k. At six months I was making $50k. A year after that I was making $80k. At that point I felt like I had basically plateaued without the degree. You certainly don't need one to do well in this field though.
As I mentioned in my other post, you'll get more value out of a degree if you study something else _in addition to_ computer science. If you're in CS courses and you feel like it's easy (The more introductory courses will be very easy; you may be able to test out) it'll feel like a waste of time. It is up to you what kind of value you want to get out of it.
In terms of value, I intend to improve my knowledge across every area of my degree units an order of magnitude and also to broaden my horizons, I would love to learn more about the hardware side too, being an all software person, it can sometimes be quite a mystical subject.
I agree about not needing the degree to do well, I would however propose that from stories I have heard so far it does seem to reduce the difficulty.
You don't need a piece of paper to prove this, you need to apply what you know to projects either personal or professional. Preferably professional. Get involved in open source, join a programming community, look for mentors, etc.
A degree can be a good confirmation that you can do what you say you can and you can be relatively sure that someone holding a degree will have a more thorough understanding of things and is capable of functioning independently (usually).
However, there's plenty of people with a CS degree I'd never consider working with and if a company was to hire me based solely on my CS degree I wouldn't consider working for them. There's more to any single developer than a degree they hold, or don't.