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While the cost of pilot training may not reach the levels of a four-year degree from a college or university, it’s certainly not cheap. According to L3Harris, a global leader in airline pilot training, a commercial pilot’s license could cost more than $83,995, while a private pilot’s license could cost $11,590.
At these prices, flight school financing is typically needed.
We’ll explain the steps you should take to secure student loans for flight school, as well as other forms of financial aid.
How to finance flight school
To receive flight school financing, you’ll take the same steps as a student pursuing a four-year degree — your options will just be more limited.
Here are the steps to take to receive financial aid for flight school:
Step 1: Ask your school whether it qualifies for federal aid
Federal financial aid should be the first step for all students looking for financing. This is because federal aid typically comes with better terms and repayment options. Unfortunately, federal aid is only available to students attending schools that are accredited, and most flight schools are not.
However, just because this holds true for the majority of schools, doesn’t mean that is the case for all of them. Reach out to your school’s admissions office to see if it is accredited. If it is, continue reading the rest of step one. If it isn’t, you can move on to step two where we discuss private options.
Federal financial aid for flight school
If your flight school is accredited, the first step to receiving federal financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is used by the Department of Education to determine whether you qualify for grants, scholarships, work-study programs, or federal student loans.
Here is a breakdown of these different financing options:
- Direct Subsidized Loan: Available to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The interest that accrues while you’re in school is paid for by the government with this loan. Learn more with this guide.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Available to eligible undergraduate students, regardless of financial need. You’re responsible for paying the interest that accrues while in school with this loan. Learn more with this guide.
- Parent PLUS Loan: Available to parents of dependent undergraduate students regardless of financial need. A credit check is required to check for an adverse credit history. Learn more with this guide.
- Federal Pell Grant: Available to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need. You do not need to repay the money received through this grant. Learn more with this guide.
- Work-Study: This program provides part-time jobs to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need. The money earned is used to pay for school.
Step 2: Compare private loans for flight training
If your flight school is not eligible for federal aid, or doesn’t cover all of what you need, private student loans are your next option.
Private loans for flight training are offered by banks, credit unions, online lenders, and possibly even your school’s financial aid office. While flight school financing through a private lender was much more difficult to attain in the past, several lenders have seen the increasing popularity of these programs, and have begun offering student loans for trade schools and other career training.
It’s important to compare your options when it comes to private student loans. By comparing your options, you can increase your chances of finding the lowest rate, thereby limiting the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.
Here are the different types of private loans for flight training.
Several private lenders offer career training loans that can cover the costs of flight school.
5, 8, 10, or 15 years
1.24% – 13.95%
College Ave, our top-rated private student loan partner, has an undergraduate and graduate career loan where students who enroll in pilot training programs at eligible schools can receive financing.
This loan can cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance, offers $150 cash back if you complete your program of study, and lets you pick your repayment term.
In just three minutes, you can apply and receive an instant credit decision.
5 – 15 years
4.25% – 13.83%
Sallie Mae’s Career Training Smart Option student loan was designed specifically for trade certificate courses and professional training at schools that don’t grant traditional degrees.
Borrowers can receive up to 100% of school-certified expenses and won’t be charged an origination fee or prepayment penalty for paying off your loan early.
Wells Fargo has exited the student loan industry.
Prior to exiting the industry, Wells Fargo offered a Career and Community College loan that could be used for eligible flight schools.
Your school’s financial aid office
Because there are limited options for student loans for flight school, some schools offer financing programs to students. Ask your school whether it has any financing programs. If it does, compare the terms with private lenders to see if it’s the best deal you can get.
Airline training program
Airlines sometimes offer tuition reimbursement programs or their own training programs. If you’ve already determined which airline you plan to fly for, check to see whether it offers one of these programs.
Other loans for flight school
If you don’t qualify for student loans for flight school, you may want to consider a personal loan. Unlike student loans, personal loans can be used for almost anything. As you would for a private student loan, make sure to compare your options as interest rates on personal loans are typically higher than a student loan.
To compare options, check out our picks for the best personal loans.
Author: Jeff Gitlen