There has been a rise in the number of young undergraduates in England and Wales liable to pay full tuition fees - and fewer exempted.
The latest official statistics, for the 2002-03 academic year, show 43% of students were assessed to make no contribution at all towards their fees.
Of the remainder, 15% made a partial contribution and 42% paid the lot, currently £1,125 a year.
The previous year 16% paid only part and 41% paid the full amount.
The fee contributions are largely means-tested.
There is a marked difference between "dependent" students - those whose families are liable - and "independent", that is, aged over 25 or married for two years or supporting themselves for three years before their courses began.
- 230,000 (35%) paid nil
- 111,000 (17%) paid some
- 318,000 (48%) paid all
In 2001-02 the number of dependent students paying the full fee had been 312,000 or 46% of the total, while 240,000 (36%) paid nothing.
- 101,000 (87%) paid nil
- 4,000 (4%) paid some
- 10,000 (9%) paid all
The new figures also show that 82% of students across the UK who were entitled to take out a student loan actually did so.
The average amount of the loan was £3,130 - making a total of £2.6bn borrowed.