Higher university fees are putting off one in 10 potential students, a survey commissioned by BBC Inside Out suggests.
The survey of 1,009 A-Level students in England found most would probably still go to university despite higher fees.
But about half said they would consider selecting a university closer to home to cut living costs, or one abroad with cheaper fees.
Two-thirds said they would consider apprenticeships instead.
Overall, the survey suggests the benefits of university are viewed as outweighing the costs.
It comes as universities are preparing to charge higher fees from the academic year 2012, from when the teaching grant will be cut.
Many will charge as much as £9,000 for a degree course, although these fees will be funded through government subsidised loans.
Although Scottish students studying in Scotland will not have to pay and Welsh students will have their fees heavily subsidised - elsewhere students facing higher fees are expected to seek value for money.
Generally the survey, conducted for the BBC over the telephone by ComRes with 1,009 16 to 18-year-olds, suggests young people believe they will have better job prospects at the end of university than after leaving school.
However, students are worried about their debt and do think it is incredibly hard to get a job after university, it suggests.
Some 51% do not agree that the financial burden of going to university is too much.
The research suggests just under half of students are beginning to look abroad for cheaper study options, while half would consider going to a more local university to save money.
Steve Edwards, of the advice website bestCourse4me, said: "The fact that students considering university are worried about debt chimes with our own survey carried out earlier this year.
'More financial support'
"While we know it may deter some from higher education our message to students is be savvy about your choices. Firstly be sure you actually need a degree for the career you want; just because there's a degree course in it doesn't mean it's always the best route.
"The survey's finding that two thirds of students would consider an apprenticeship is encouraging and suggests that students are willing to be pragmatic."
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "It's important that prospective students are not put off applying to university.
"Going to university depends on ability - not the ability to pay. Most new students will not pay upfront, there will be more financial support for those from poorer families and everyone will make lower loan repayments than they do now once they are in well paid jobs."