Today's students and their parents wildly underestimate the cost of attending university, with more than a third (39 per cent) saving no money.
The Association of Investment Trust Companies (AITC) further found that 72 per cent of students and 64 per cent of parents underestimate the true cost of university - a problem that consequently leads to large debt on graduation.
Almost half of students (47 per cent) and an alarming one-third (33 per cent) of parents think they will leave university with debts of less than £6,000. However the true figure is nearer double that, at £12,000.
"Many young people go to university to enjoy some of the best years of their life but at the end of three years find themselves deeply in debt," said Annabel Brodie-Smith, communications director at the AITC.
"Our research shows that neither students nor their parents fully appreciate the hefty costs of higher education, which means they could be setting themselves up for a very costly fall."
The survey also discovered that the prospect of running up huge loans is enough to influence the course chosen by nearly a third of potential undergraduates (30 per cent).DeHavilland Information Services plc