Students in England graduating this year will owe a combined £2.46bn, according to new figures.
A report by Barclays shows that the average graduate debt is £13,501, an increase of more than 10% in the past year.
But the number of graduates with debts has fallen from 80% to just under 75% in the same period of time.
The report suggests the drop could be linked to students taking a year off before university to earn money.
About 183,000 graduates will leave university with debt this year.
Jeremy Law, head of student and graduate banking at Barclays, said the rise in debt was partly due to rising living costs and a “more resigned attitude towards debt”.
“If this trend continues, students starting a three-year course this September could be graduating with debts of almost £20,000,” he said.
The Barclays Annual Graduate Survey was conducted by NOP World Financial between February and March and questioned 1,237 recent graduates.