Ill address each of your questions individually.
"I was wondering if in order to become a pilot for a commercial airline if I need a college degree?"
- Having a college degree is NOT mandatory at this moment in time to apply and fly for certain airlines. However, with a 2/4 year degree, you are looked at in a better light than those without a degree. It shows responsibility, motivation, and ability to succeed among other things. Southwest Airlines is one airline that requires a 4yr degree. I fly for an airline that requires a 2yr, and recommends a 4yr.
"If so can it be any four year degree, or does it have to do with aviation or that sort of things?"
- You will find many pilots who say that a degree OUTSIDE of aviation is a better route than one within. You have many more options should the airline industry take a turn for the worse. I have one in Aeronautics, and its served my purpose quite well. With this question, I would say you are 50/50 with whats "better," an aviation degree, vs something else. Get a degree in something you ENJOY, and pursue flying in other ways if desired.
"Would a degree from a university online be looked down upon?"
-Not too sure about this. A degree is a degree from how I see it. You still have to complete assignments, attend "class" etc. I however would recommend you do something other than go to an online college if you decide to fly airplanes.
"Around how long does it take before you start making decent money?"
- Depends on what your definition of decent is. Regional Airline first officers start off between 19-22 dollars an hr on avg. It truly depends on how many seats you have behind you, and what equipment you are operating. Jet pilots make more than turboprop pilots on avg. Your pay goes up from year to year. Once you are a senior First Officer, or a Captain, you will make "decent" money. However for most pilots, that money doesnt come until you work for a major carrier.
-- As far as schools in Socal, refer to my above rant on degrees both in and out of aviation. Any college is college. Just do well in what you do.
I will tell you that Embry-Riddle is great and you need a four year degree in field for piloting. Personally, I feel that any amount of yearly income over 75,000 is good money and I think you start off above that!
Not sure where in so Cal you are. Start with a private pilot's license first and THEN get your commercial license, multiengine, and ATP licenses to work at an airline. For your private pilot's license, check out Brackett Field (in Pomona) and Cable/Runway 27 (in Upland). I flew there!! There are other schools in Riverside also which are good.
Here are a couple of sites you should check out:
http://www.aopa.org/ - this one will tell you everything you need to know about obtaining a pilots license as well as a database of flight schools by location.
http://360.yahoo.com/private_jet_charter - this blog will walk you through the process in obtaining the various FAA licenses you will have to obtain in order to get your commercial certificate. New entries are added weekly.
Good luck with the flying!
If your willing to relocate, move to middle TN and go to MTSU, they have one of the top 5 aviation schools in the nation
go to google and type in "how to become a commercialairline pilot'' you should get a lot of hits.