Post-secondary education is, sadly, a necessity of life over here in the US, unless you want to spend all your days flipping burgers or stocking shelves. (And even then, getting that piece of paper is no guarantee.)
However, I'm in agreement with Dice in that there needs to be a move away from the traditional 4-year major school. Colleges keep raising tuition to pay for the costs of idiot things like sports teams (though the players are excepted from this financial drain, because of the whole 'student athlete' BS), newer facilities, and other such incidentals.
The common lore I've encountered says that places like trade schools and community colleges are, if you're young, basically third-string options. You don't go to those unless you haven't any other choice - if you're older and wanting to go back to school, then community college is okay. But out of high school? Pssssh, what sort of person are you that you couldn't get accepted into a fine 4-year school.
In reality, those are actually pretty worthwhile. I had a classmate from school who was, quite simply, a genius. After we graduated, he didn't go to college like the rest of us, he went to trade school to be an electrician. Lo and behold, when the rest of us were struggling to find work because of the housing bubble burst, he was safely employed as an electrician, making upwards of $50k a year. (This was in the Midwest, where CoL is pretty low.)