I'm 25 and I'm starting my COTA program in the fall at my community college. I sometimes would like to be like my friends and have a 4-year degree (I skipped college and went straight to massage therapy school after high school), but I know many people who have been out of college for years now and they're still paying off their debt, in jobs that have nothing to do with their degree.
I finished my observation hours recently and spoke to many COTAs who love their job and are very happy with it. They also did the same program that I will do and had nothing but good things to say. Financially it makes sense to me, it's so affordable and you can actually make a very decent salary in certain facilities. There's also a lot of options if you like change. You can work with special-needs kids, the elderly, developmentally disabled adults, mental health patients, hand therapy patients, etc. I like how OT addresses both physical and emotional/psychological issues in a person.
You're young so a traditional college route to become an OTR may be a good idea in the long run, but if I were you I would probably do that if you're able to financially (perhaps if your parents have a college fund or something). Since I'm paying for this myself and I don't want to go back to school for over 4 years, the associates degree to become a COTA is perfect for me.
Also, it's a good idea to keep in mind that you can always become a COTA, and in the future if you want to advance your career, you can go back to school and become an OTR. There are some bridge programs out there that make it easier for COTAs to do this.