Pick a good school. One that focuses only on animation. While I can't recommand you one in the US, I know for sure your investment in a good course will be worth it. I studied animation for three years, and after my course all I have to do now is relearn the basics since I never learned them. All I got was: here, it's the frames of a bouncing ball. Draw it. I didn't learn timing, acting, lipsync...
Pick a school that will teach you Maya. Maybe 3ds MAX on the side but mostly Maya. You need it.
Pick a program that will help you build your demo reel. You need to finish school with a reel.
An internship in the program seems great, but I can't confirm if it really helps with a job or no. I didn't have one.
From what I've seen online as well, the US works like Canada (I'm from Canada). You'll get a job where you live. My dream of going to Vancouver to work? Forget it you're in Québec, you stay in Québec. In order to get funding from the government, compagnies need to hire locally. I wish somebody had told me that before. But you're 16 and you want to animate, now I'm 22 and I sent over 130 resumes without any luck yet.
I'm not wanting to tell you to give up on your dream, it is the same as mine. Just be ready to take on a program with a good reputation and from which students actually get hired. True, skill matters. Work hard and become the best!