The cost of a university education in Australia is set to jump by up to 50 per cent in the next decade according to a new study - and regional students will be among the worst affected.
Wollongong Undergraduate Students' Association president Samantha Dixon said the forecast by the Australian Scholarships Group study was dismal.
The Cost of University study estimated that course costs for law, medicine and accounting would rise from $9792 per year in 2013 to $15,545 in 2023.
Meanwhile the cost of a journalism, nursing or teaching degree was estimated to rise from about $3447 to $9315 a year in 2023.
The ASG study also found that living costs would increase by up to 46 per cent in the next 10 years for students who rent while at university, with a four-year degree estimated to cost $160,702 in living expenses alone in 2023.
This would disproportionately affect students in rural or regional areas, with these students to be lumbered with twice the living expenses of their metropolitan counterparts who were more likely to live at home.
"The student association [at the University of Wollongong] is very aware of the high cost of living for university students and is concerned about these projected rises in coming years," Ms Dixon said.
"At Wollongong there is a large number of students who have had to move here from the far south coast and other regional and rural areas, and they don't have the same support as those who are able to live at home."
Ms Dixon said many students were forced to juggle part-time work with study to pay their rent, bills, transport, food and other living costs.
While course costs could be deferred through the Commonwealth Government's HECS-HELP loan, students had to pay a high price for textbooks, computers and other equipment.
First year student Lachlan Foster is starting to count the costs of higher education.
The Sydneysider starts a double degree in law and communications at UOW next week, but is yet to find rental accommodation for a reasonable price.
"I think that everyone should have the chance to study what they're passionate about but a lot of students have trouble with the cost of attending university," he said.
"Even if you're able to defer your fees, you end up with a large debt.
"Education is so vital to society - if we make it too much for profit then I think we're missing the point."
ASG chief executive John Velegrinis said it was frightening what a university education could cost.
"Many parents plan for their children's primary and secondary education, only to be blind-sided by university course fees and living expenses that can cost thousands of dollars," he said.
"The cost of sending three children to university is the equivalent to a brand new family home."