Parents are failing to save for their children's university courses, says a survey.
Students are leaving with more debts than ever before
And they are underestimating how much a three years degree course is likely to cost.
Money problems also mean that students are taking term-time jobs, with another survey saying that more than half students are now working.
This is affecting their studies, as over 40% say they have missed lectures because of their jobs.
With students returning for the new university year, a survey suggests that many parents are failing to prepare for the financial pressures ahead.
The survey, from the Abbey National bank, found a third of parents are not yet saving for university costs - which the bank says is now going to be about £22,500.
This figure could be bad news for many parents - as the bank's survey says that a third of families are under the impression that they will only have to pay less than £10,000, with another quarter expecting to pay less than £20,000.
Only a tenth of parents are aware that the full cost is likely to be in excess of £20,000.
These figures apply to students now starting university - and the financial outlook is even tougher for those with young children - with forecasts that by 2020 university expenses will have reached £34,000.
In another survey, from NatWest bank, it appears that the number of students with part-time jobs is increasing - with 53% reporting that they are working, up from 48% last year.
This increase in work reflects the deepening levels of debt - up to an average of over £8,000, with more than a quarter of students owing more than £10,000.
Without working, three-quarters of students say they could not be able to financially survive through university, although 43% said that they had missed lectures because of their jobs.
And the survey found that six out of ten students believed that the current tuition fees system is not fair.