Student debt is reported to have risen above £3 billion for the first time following the introduction of top-up tuition fees.
Figures to be released by the Student Loans Company later this week are expected to show the debt of current students is three times the 1997 level.
The news comes as the Office for Fair Access says the system of student bursaries needs to be overhauled.
The bursaries are supposed to help disadvantaged youngsters go to university, but campaigners argue that bursaries are not working and the money could be better spent on outreach and summer schools.
The system, designed with poorer students in mind, was part of the Government's get out of jail card when it introduced £3,000 tuition fees for universities.
They were part of a package of measures offered by Tony Blair to buy off more than 100 rebel MPs.
His plans for variable tuition fees scraped through the House of Commons by just five votes, as 72 Labour MPs voted against the Government.