The research shows the Bank of Mum and Dad is fast becoming the Bank of Gran and Grandad as today’s grandparents will each shell out around £4,000 to help the younger generation get on in life.
This is an almost fourfold increase on the amount being set aside for the same purpose five years ago, according to the research by Saga Savings.
More than a third of Britain’s estimated 11.8 million grandparents have funded or intend to help fund their grandchildren’s studies.
The survey, which questioned almost 10,000 over-50s, suggests older Britons are keen to see their wealth benefiting younger members of the family if it boosts their future prospects.
The research also showed that two-thirds of parents in the over-50 age group were contributing nearly £7,000 to help pay for children going to university.
Andrew Strong, chief executive of Saga Personal Finance, said: “The billions that Britain’s grandparents put aside for grandchildren shows both how hard they have worked and saved all their lives, and also how lucky teenagers are now to have such generous relatives.”
But the National Union of Students (NUS) said it highlighted the financial burden faced by those looking to learn.
“Students will be graduating with a staggering average debt of £53,000,” an NUS spokeswoman said.
“Those who do not have the rare luxury of resorting to their grandparents or the Bank of Mum and Dad are increasingly being driven to work full-time alongside study – where jobs can be found – or worse still, into the arms of predatory payday lenders just to make ends meet.
“Students and their parents cannot stand idly by as the government asks them to pay more for their education while making huge cuts to funding.
“We need a financial support system that ensures students get what the support they need, when they need it.”
There are currently around 2.3 million students in the UK.
A record number of UK students – 496,000 – were accepted for full-time university courses last year, including more poorer students than ever before.