The need for children to be taught financial literacy has never been greater, according to the head of the winning school in The Birmingham Post/Barclays Moneywise competition.
Tim Swain, head of Queen Mary's Grammar School in Walsall, said youngsters now faced far greater pressure, with more of them being urged to go to university at a time of increased tuition fees.
Even though most pupils at his school come from relatively comfortable backgrounds, he claimed some were already considering ditching higher education because of the cost.
"Financial awareness is important in terms of preparing for university," said Mr Swain.
"We find that some children who should be going to university are thinking twice now because of the cost.
"It is a great shame if people lose the opportunity to do things because of the financial strain.
"If they could be taught to manage their funds when they do go to university that is a fantastic thing to get right."
Next September will see tuition top-up fees increase the amount students pay per year to study from £1,175 currently to £3,000 at almost every university.
Barclays predicts the change will see average graduate debt for a three-year course rise from £13,500 currently to almost £34,000 by the end of the decade.
The Government disputes this, maintaining average graduate debt will be about half that once top-up fees are introduced.
It also claims changing payment from up front at the start of each year to a proportion of salary after graduation will lessen the burden on students and their parents.
But, according to Mr Swain, many parents are not prepared for the major funding shift within higher education.
"It is a huge change that some parents are not picking up on because either they have had no experience of university, or their experience was so different," said.
Queen Mary's has held sessions within the school for parents to help them prepare for their children's financial future.
Kate Williams, gifted and talented co- ordinator at Turves Green Girls' School and Technology College in Northfield, Birmingham, a runner-up in the competition, claimed the earlier financial education started the better.
"These children are 13-years-old but there is nothing wrong with starting it earlier," she said.
"It is about making them aware. We make them aware of other dangers in life, like drugs and alcohol, but not necessarily money, which can get you into as much trouble if not more.
"It is about teaching children to be responsible. From our school's point of view, our catchment area is not one that is particularly wealthy so it is quite real for them.
"They are not from a privileged background but if you give them the right tools from an early age you are helping the problem.
"If you leave it to later on and try and re-educate when they are at university it is harder."
She added: "Projects like this are a really good way of making them aware."
Queen Mary's last week beat four finalists to scoop £10,000 in The Birmingham Post/Barclays competition after its idea for a board game testing the financial ability of schoolchildren was judged the best entry.