First off here's a link to a peice of software called Maya PLE (personal learning edition).
PLE is just a watermarked version of Maya complete that uses it's own file format. More importantly it's free and that makes it £1400 cheaper than complete. In this you can do your modelling, animating and rendering.
As for tutorials, the two best places are:
1) Here. You won't find many tutorials better, and there's lots of them.
2) "F1" the help files contain tutorials and give you enough to get going.
Remember to start small and if you get stuck just ask plenty of questions.
Hope that helped.
EDIT: - Also before the argument starts about using NURBS or Polys for your first model (Your going to need something to animate). Polys are far more predictable in their results, so are more suited to the new user.