As it stands right now my family cannot afford to put me through college. I let my grades get very low after getting in a slump after three of my family members abruptly died and I got lazy and undetermined to try in school for a while. My grades aren't anywhere near good enough to get in a college. I don't want to start my adult life six feet in student loans. I have been programming since I was 12, mainly in C++ since I was 14.
I'm 17 now and I've messed around with all kinds of projects from OpenGL audio visualizer software, Unity game development, cryptography specifically RSA and AES, game modding like DLL injection, Web development (I made my older brothers electronics website for him which has since gone out of business, not because my work hopefully :D), Raw socket programming in Linux to make a TTL-expiry tool, and various other small, non professional projects.
From what I understand contributing to open source projects looks good on a resume as well as internships. What I would like to know, preferably from those that do hiring and firing, is what things it would take for you to consider hiring a kid out of high school over someone with a CS degree?
What would I have to do to really set myself apart and get a job in software engineering / programming straight out of high school with no degree?
I don't want to sound like I over estimate my abilities as a programmer. I know I am nowhere near on par with those that develop software professionally. And I realize this question may seem naive, unrealistic and too optimistic. Please be as blunt as possible. I need it.
Due to very strict time constraints requiring me to be financially stable within the next few years I cannot afford to finally get my degree 5 and a half years down the line after my Junior and Senior year of high school THEN 4 years of college. I completely understand nobody will get it. I understand no one can think of a single reason I would need to do this and I sound completely irrational and like a dumb kid. I have something very important to me that is going to be out of reach by the time almost 6 years passes by. Time is crucial in my situation and believe me when I say it is the world to me that I can get on my own and financially stable as soon as possible. I know this sounds esoteric and weird and it is. But thank you for your answers! I'm sorry I can't accept an answer since I was a guest when I posted this.