LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Planning for college can be exciting yet overwhelming. Louisville Collegiate School held its fourth annual College Comprehensive Sunday to help ease concerns for students looking to make the next big step. 

"We try to help families feel confident and comfortable about the process," director of college counseling at Louisville Collegiate School, Sara Gahan said. "[College Comprehensive] is a place where you can come and hopefully get a lot of information from people who are in the field, who are experts on these topics."

More than 100 future freshmen attend the fair to learn about financial aid, standardized testing, and the application process.

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"Seeing the college search and application process as a journey that this isn't just a means to an end is an opportunity for families and students to learn who they are and what their hopes are," Gahan said. 

Most of us are taught a four-year college degree could equal higher income, job opportunities, and even the likelihood of becoming a homeowner, but taking out loans could mean years, even decades of debt headaches.

In 2019, outstanding student debt stood at $1.5 trillion in the third quarter – an increase of $20 billion over the previous quarter according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

According to Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, college is still worth it.

In a published letter to Kentucky students, President of the Council Aaron Thompson said no matter what you pay, in the long-run an associate's degree in Kentucky earns you about $4,500 more a year than a high school degree. Bachelor degree holders earn $18,000 more a year.

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Thompson said that translates to an additional $879,000 in earnings over a 40-year career, and if you pursue a grad school degree it could earn you an additional $1.34 million.

New data shows college graduation rates are rising in Kentucky highlighting how the state is doing a better job at retaining more students.

According to Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the state awarded more than 23,000 bachelor degrees in 2018. The recent data shows the six-year graduation rate for a four-year degree has risen by about four percent over the past three years.

"The college process should be exciting," Gahan said. "Thinking about college and all of the opportunities that affords and what is ahead for students and their future should be exciting."

Contact reporter Senait Gebregiorgis at SGebregior@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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