Meanwhile, 78% of parents said they thought the credit crunch would make it harder for them to fund their children through university, the study for child trust fund provider The Children's Mutual found.
Four times more teenagers are heading to university now than 30 years ago, the report found, but many young people and their families are only just starting to realise the financial implications of higher education. The average graduate leaves university with a £17,500 debt.
David White, chief executive of The Children's Mutual, said: "It is becoming increasingly apparent that we need a sea change in the way that many parents and their children fund university.
"For those approaching higher education in the next few years the Government has a clear student finance package in place but for parents of younger children, one way to stave off the financial nightmares of the current university generation could be to start saving now."
"The average cost of three years at university now sits at £40,400 - a huge amount of money for any teenager to find."
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