University tuition fees are set to rise next year, with students paying just over £8,500 on average.
A third of English institutions will charge the maximum £9,000 as standard for a degree next year, according to official figures.
Around three in four will charge the top rate for at least one of their undergraduate courses.
Union leaders said that the latest figures show that fees of more than £6,000 are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
English university fee levels for 2013/14 were published by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) on Thursday, as it released individual institutions' latest plans for ensuring that disadvantaged teenagers are not priced out of higher education.
Under a major overhaul of the system, every university that wants to charge students more than £6,000 and up to £9,000, must submit an annual "access agreement", which has to be signed off by OFFA.
Institutions that fail to meet targets in their agreement on recruiting and retaining students risk a hefty fine or losing the right to charge more than £6,000.
In total, 122 universities and 28 further education colleges now have access agreements in place for 2013/14, the second year of the tuition fee hike.
Students starting degree courses in autumn next year will pay estimated average tuition fees of £8,507, up from the latest estimate of £8,385 for 2012/13.
It is understood that the rise has been driven by universities making changes to their fee levels for next year.
After fee waivers, which reduce the charge for poorer students, the estimated average fee will be £8,263, OFFA said.
The figures show that 94 of 122 universities (77%) will charge £9,000 for at least one of their courses, and 42 institutions (34%) will charge the maximum as standard.
Among the further education colleges, three are expected to have fees of £9,000 for at least one course, and one will charge the maximum across the board.
OFFA insisted that when all financial support is taken into account the estimated average fee for 2013/14 will be £7,898.
Ten universities and colleges will charge an average of £9,000 after fee waivers are taken into account, the organisation added.
These institutions are likely to provide bursaries or other forms of financial support.
The Government originally predicted, when fees were first set to be raised, that the average annual cost would be £7,500, and that universities would only charge more than £6,000 in "exceptional circumstances."
Sir Martin Harris, director of Fair Access, said: "These access agreements show a largely similar picture to 2012/13 access agreements.
"Predicted spending on both financial support and outreach activity is up significantly compared to spending under the old fee and support arrangements although, as with 2012/13 agreements, on financial support the balance has changed from predominantly bursaries and scholarships to a mixture of bursaries and scholarships, fee waivers and other support such as accommodation discounts.
"Interestingly, access agreements for 2013/14 show a decrease of £19.6 million in fee waivers and, at the same time, an extra £33.3 million going into student choice, where students can choose between a discount on their tuition fee or financial support such as a bursary or discounted accommodation.
"This change may, in part, be the result of greater student influence in the development of access agreements following OFFA's new requirement for universities and colleges to state how they have consulted with students when drawing up their agreement."
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: "When pushing higher fees through Parliament ministers promised that fees above £6,000 would be the exception rather than rule. Today's figures confirm our more accurate prediction that fees closer to the maximum of £9,000 a year would in fact be the norm.
"There's little pleasure in being right, especially as we saw a drop in student applications of almost 10% this year following the massive hike in fees. Decisions about what and where to study at university should be made based on an individual's academic ability, not how much a course costs."
According to the latest Offa figures for 2012/13 - the first year of the fee hike - 91 of 124 universities with access agreements will charge £9,000 for at least one course, and 42 will charge this figure as standard.
Offa's statistics also show that, under their access agreements for next year, universities and colleges are planning to spend £671.8 million a year by 2016/17 on "outreach" measures to ensure that disadvantaged students do not miss out on higher education.
Dr Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group of leading universities, said: "Next year Russell Group universities in England will on average be spending more than 32% of their additional fee income on measures to improve access - more than the 26.5% average across other higher education institutions.
"And once financial support is taken into account the estimated average cost of fees per student is less than £8,400 at all our universities and less than £8,000 at a quarter of them.
"However, it is vital policymakers do not lose sight of the bigger picture by focusing too much on regulation instead of tackling the real issues.
"The root cause of the under-representation of disadvantaged pupils is under-achievement at school and poor advice on the best choices of A-level subjects and university degree courses.
"Universities cannot solve these problems alone and we hope that Offa fully recognises the challenges of setting and achieving really quite specific outcome targets."
Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said: "When students' unions are consulted in the development of access agreements, they are winning local battles to ensure their universities' funds are diverted away from partial fee waivers, which benefit only the richest graduates, towards upfront support and student choice.
"Students are winning these local victories, however, at a time when the total spending on bursaries and scholarships is projected to fall by 2016.
"Ministers repeatedly assured Parliament in 2010 that average fees over £6,000 would only be allowed in 'exceptional circumstances'
"Those who doubted them have been proved right as these figures show that next year all English universities will have an average fee of more than £6,000 and that a third will have minimum fees of £9,000."