The cost of studying for a degree could top £33,500, according to research.
Sixth-formers starting university in September will spend an estimated £33,512 after the government introduces top up charges on tuition fees from this autumn, a study by NatWest bank estimated.
The Money Matters survey found that graduates leaving university this year had average debts of £13,252, a 5% increase on the previous year.
Graduate starting salaries have also dropped from £14,090 to £13,860, according to the bank.
But Mark Worthington, head of student and graduate banking for NatWest, said: “New students are clearly much more clued up about the financial realities of university than in previous years.”
Tuition fees for British universities have increased from £1,175 to £3,000 a year.
The research was based on survey of 1,003 graduates, 1,071 students and 1,059 sixth formers.