Undergraduates in England who drop out in their first year at university can lose tens of thousands of pounds in tuition fees and student loan payments, Which? University warns.
For first-year students outside of London, the worst-case scenario could mean repaying the full £9,250 tuition fee and the £8,944 maximum maintenance loan repayment.
This results in a total cost of £18,194, and rises to £20,992 for students studying in the capital. Plus, these repayment figures are subject to interest rate increases.
Which? University is urging prospective students to thoroughly research their options before accepting a university offer, to avoid making quick decisions that they may regret.
The cost of dropping out depends on when you drop out, where you study, your living situation, and any bursaries or grants that demand repayment if you don't complete your course.
More students than you may think decide to leave university. In fact, the from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) indicates that 6.4% of undergraduate students in the UK withdraw from their course.
What's more, nearly one in four (23%) graduates in Which? University's most recent graduate survey said that they wouldn't take the same course again if they could go back in time, further highlighting the importance of researching your options.
Reflecting on our findings, Which? managing director of public markets Alex Hayman says: 'Striking out on your own for the first time is as scary as it is exciting, and securing a place at university is a huge achievement - so coming to terms with your university choices not living up to your expectations after enrolling is difficult enough, even before considering the financial burden that comes with dropping out of university.
'While not every situation that leads to dropping out from university can be avoided, there are steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of regretting your university choices. Research your options thoroughly, take your time making your decision, and don't be swayed by external pressures or influences - so you choose the path that's right for you.'