More than half of students regularly worry about meeting basic living expenses and future debt levels, with these students being twice as likely to have "seriously considered" leaving their course.
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Although the Welsh Government has pledged free tuition to all its nationals, English students who go to Wales for university still have to stump up the fees, often hitting £9,000 a year.
NUS Wales deputy president Beth Button said: "No longer can Wales afford to ignore the impact that the cost of living has on students' ability to complete their studies.
"Student poverty is having huge effects on our nation. No student should have to choose between heating or eating."
One Cardiff University student Alex Ellis, who hails from Birmingham, expects to have £22,500 worth of debt when she graduates.
She told Wales Online: "The student finance we receive isn’t enough to live [on]. If someone is living on £10,000 for the year it is seen as quite a low-paid job.
“However, with student finance you’re living on £7,000 a year, which when you take out rent is not a lot."
The study follows research published earlier this year which showed students were socialising less and studying more, with a third abstaining from alcohol in order to save money.
Richard Brooks, president of the students' union at Hull University previously blogged on HuffPost UK saying the student cost of living had reached crisis point.
"Students are living in poverty, and it is not even on the radar on the political agenda," he said. "Even in Hull, where we have a notoriously low cost of living, and a higher number of students from lower socio-economic background than the sector average, we are still having major issues. The number of students using our Students' Union Advice Centre for money issues has spiked, and the number of food parcels we hand out has also increased dramatically."
A spokesperson for the government said: “The review is now underway and is expected to report back in the autumn of 2015 and will seek to address priorities such as widening access, supporting the skill needs of Wales and long-term financial sustainability.”Suggest a correction