Student Loans for Flight School - Find the Best Option for you

Looking to become a pilot? The high cost of education tend to put becoming a pilot on hold. Learn more about federal and private loans to help cover these tuition. Discover ways to help repay the loans taken out for flight school .

Updated by Kirtika Acharya on 19th December 2019

Admission to Flight School is a dream for many students. A career as a pilot not only comes with financial rewards, it also gives the chance to see the world while working in a demanding field. Simultaneously, it comes with responsibilities. Like highly trained professionals, the pilot requires extensive education and training.

To pursue your career in aviation requires a dogged determination to realize their professional ambitions. But to become a licensed pilot from accredited flight schools is expensive so to study in-flight school requires financial aid to complete your study. At first glance, there may seem to be few financial aid options available for prospective pilots. But a closer examination reveals that there are more financing opportunities for flight school students than you may think.

Table of contents 

The Costs Of Flight Training

A pilot can earn a handsome amount per year in six figures which is an impressive income, but the salaries and benefits associated with being a pilot reflect the challenges and responsibilities that go with the job. 

According to Debbie Sparks, vice president of the  Flight School Association of North America (FSANA), you can expect to pay about $70,000 for flight school tuition over the course of one year.

Books, supplies and electronic training materials can easily add $5,000 more, this amount can vary depending on your school. If you require room and board, you may add another bill ranging from $10,000 to $ 15,000. If you want certifications -- which allow you to work on various aircraft -- you can expect to shell out $500 to $1,200 for each individual certificate. While looking for loans it is advised to first exhaust your federal student loan options and then start exploring private student loans. There is an ample number of loans available, evaluate your financial condition and pick the option that is best suited for you.

Training to become a pilot is expensive, few students can afford to pay these costs from their pocket, and most will need to pursue some form of financial aid to make their education and training possible. 

That means you are likely to rely on loans. But flight school loans is bit different. Let’s look at each option, starting with federal loans.


Federal Loans for flight school

When you are looking for loans, the federal student loan is the first stop for college funding.Here are some types of federal student loans you could receive for flight school:

Federal Pell Grant

The money got here does not need to be repaid. The Pell Grant is awarded on the basis of financial need, the maximum amount which can be awarded is $5,500. A student attending a pilot training from an accredited flight school may be eligible for pell grant.

Federal Direct Subsidized and Federal Direct Unsubsidized

these low-interest student loans are offered by the federal government to help the student to pay their school fees. In federal direct subsidized loans, interest is paid by the government when you are enrolled in school and after graduation you need to pay the interest of the loan. In direct unsubsidized loan student does not require to demonstrate the financial need, and this loan is available to all the students who are enrolled in an accredited graduate or undergraduate program. Students receiving these loans are responsible to pay for accrued interest. Loan amount for both the federal direct subsidized loans and federal direct unsubsidized loans are determined by the cost of attendance.

Federal direct plus student loans 

The direct plus loan can be borrowed by the parent or legal guardian of a dependent child to help pay for their child’s education. Eligibility for the PLUS loan is determined by credit history, and loan amounts may not exceed the total cost of tuition less and other financial aid already received.


Private loans for flight school

When the federal student loans are exhausted or if federal programs become unavailable. The student will need to look for private loans. Remember that private loans may not come with the same perks as the federal government, such as income-driven or deferment, etc. All the private lender does not issue a loan for flight school as it is considered a trade school.

On the other hand, some banks like credit unions and online lenders such as Wells Frago and Sallie Mae have specific loan programs geared towards those in trade school programs, including aviation school.

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is one of the largest private lending institutions in the United States. They provide loan affordable interest rates for all types of students and backgrounds. Nowadays. Sallie Mae offers the Career Training  Smart option student loan for those students who are enrolled in trade schools, technical schools and vocational colleges. Students who are enrolled in pilot training are eligible for this loan. Limit of borrowing money is determined by student’s total cost of tuition, and loans are approved on the credit history.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers a different variety of student loans, including the Wells Fargo Student loan for career and community college. This loan is applicable to the students who are enrolled in a program training at a licensed flight school within the US will be eligible for this loan. Same as Sallie Mae in this high credit score is required. The student may choose the fixed or variable interest rate and it also includes the defer repayment for six months following graduation.

Private student loans make it possible for many students to achieve their educational and career goals. 


Repaying for flight school loans 

Private education loans play a major role in helping flight school students to find the funding they need to complete their training. Without these loans, many students would not be able to pursue their career ambitions. But when you take the loan do remember you need to pay it with interest. Students considering a private loan for flight school should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Never borrow more than what is absolutely necessary to cover the costs of your tuition.

  • Never sign a loan agreement if you have not read, or do not fully understand, the contract.

  • Understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, as well as the rights and responsibilities of your lender.

  • Never sign a loan agreement without a solid plan on how you will repay that loan.

Students considering private lender loans for flight school should understand that default is not an option. Loans are binding agreements between you and your lender, and defaulting on that loan can have devastating consequences. In many cases they will work with borrowers to restructure their loans to make repayment more manageable.

Students with multiple loans may need to consider private loan consolidation as a way to combine their outstanding loans into one, and to reduce their monthly payments. If you are having difficulties repaying your loan, contact your lender immediately and work with them to resolve the issue before your loan goes into default.


Reducing the cost of flight school

It is a good way to log enough qualifying hours for certain certifications and employment standards is by becoming a certified flight instructor at your school. This way you’ll get paid to complete some basic requirements.

For example, the FAA requires you to up to 1,500 flight hours for the all-important ATP certificate to become a commercial pilot. If you’re a flight instructor, you could be getting paid to complete them, dramatically cutting the cost of your training. However, keep in mind that getting certified to become a flight instructor will also bring additional costs.

Another way to log hours to get an internship. You typically have to apply for these the same way you apply for scholarships, but if you can beat out the competition, you’re eliminating the cost of paying for required flight hours.

Paying for flight school is possible

Let the high price tag of aviation training stop you from pursuing your dream. There are lots of options available for aspiring air captains, from federal aid and scholarships to private options for flight school loans. Look into all the options and decide what suits you the best.


Worried about your college tuition? Learn more about student loans


Airline training programs

While you are in school, there are some training programs you might want to consider. You could land a job and reduce the cost of flight school.

Jetblue, for example, launched its four-year Gateway Select program.

While it costs $110,000, accepted students are:

  • Provided with all required commercial flight training

  • Guaranteed a job after completion

  • Paid as a flight instructor

PSA Airlines conducts a cadet program that offers you to repay your loan. It’ll pay for Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program courses and will expedite the interview process with American Airlines.

Also, through its propel Company Pilot Career Path program, Delta Airlines trains current employees who are looking to transition to the cockpit. Employees who meet the program requirements can receive funding via Wells Frago Student loans are guaranteed work as a delta pilot.

If there’s a dream airline you want to work for, check to see what training programs are available.