Getting ready to pay for college

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Seventeen-year-old Jeremiah Ward has a lot of tough decisions ahead but one thing that is abundantly clear: college is in his future.

"I've been preparing myself my grades are good keeping my GPA up," said Ward.

His parents, Donna and Beacher Ward have one son already in school and another who will be heading there in a few years.

"I'm very focused on college because I will be going there no matter what because my parents have made that a standard," said 15-year-old Jeremiah Ward.

Donna Ward says she wants her children to succeed, cost of higher education is a concern with hopes of aid and scholarships on her mind.

"I've thought about it since they were little and it's just one of those things I always try to position them to ask the right questions early on," she said.

Planning for college involves homework long before a student steps foot on campus. Its that research that can determine not only a school and a major but also how much debt that student will face after graduation.

"No one wants a student to say I have to make a decision at age 17 and never change what I want to do that's unrealistic. However we can get more students to be more deliberate in comparing how much debt they are going to take with the starting salary or the median salary of the job they are going to get," said Bill Wozinak with ISM College Planning.

Indiana ranks 11th in the nation for student debt. 63% of the state's 2011 graduating class had an average of $27,500 dollars in debt which is a thousand dollars higher than the national average.

Being diligent about filling out federal student aid forms on time and seeking out scholarship money is a must says Wozniak.

"We have to get families to focus that front end that free money that is available and do the steps that aren't hard but you have to go through them to avail yourself to all those dollars that don't have to be paid back later," said Wozniak.

That's exactly what the Ward family is aiming for.

"We have to make sure that they are prepared that they are ready for life and that they have options in life," said Beacher Ward.

While college won't be cheap, Ward says his boys can't afford not to go.

For more information on planning and College Goal Sunday: