The current average amount of debt racked up by students by the time they graduate tops Â£13,000, but research carried out by the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) demonstrates that students tend to think they can study for a degree and only borrow around Â£8,000.
Parents have a more accurate appreciation of how student life can lead to debt management problems, with mums and dads on average expecting their child to accumulate around Â£10,000 while at university.
Daniel Godfrey, director general of the AIC, said: “Whilst it’s important to remember the many positives of a university education, it is a concern that so many parents and students still underestimate the true level of graduate debt.
“Unless parents and students start to really comprehend the financial implications of going to university, the shortfalls faced by tomorrow’s students could put them in serious financial difficulties right at the start of their working lives.”
A report from the Department for Education and Skills last year explained that the government does not see student borrowing as leading to “debt in the true sense of the word”.