You have a dream, a passion for flying, and you want to go to flight school.
But how much is it going to cost? And how will you pay for it?
Whether you want to be a helicopter pilot or airplane pilot, knowing where to start and how to meet the costs of training can be a challenge. Flight school is expensive. Like college, financial assistance is available to help you achieve your goals. However, unlike college, many flight schools are not eligible for federal financial aid.
If you have been asking, “how can I get financial aid for flight school,” our inside look at financing pilot training will help guide you towards a successful takeoff!
How Much Does a Pilot’s License Cost?
The cost of getting a helicopter or airplane pilot license depends on your goals. On average, an airplane private pilot license (PPL) costs $15,000 and a helicopter PPL costs $25,000, including application fees, tuition, training materials and supplies, and exam fees. An airplane commercial pilot license (CPL) can cost close to $60,000 while a helicopter CPL can cost $90,000.
If you put time and effort into researching and applying, financial aid and loans can cover a significant percentage of the expense of pilot training.
Types of Financial Aid for Flight School
Federal Student Aid
Federal student aid is available to students who attend accredited colleges or career schools. Federal student loans offer notable benefits and protections. Repayment plans are flexible, and rates are low.
Most independent flight schools are classified as trade schools and are not eligible to receive federal loans. But there are exceptions, so ask aviation schools you’re considering if they are accredited and can accept financial aid.
If you’re interested in earning an associate or bachelor’s degree while getting a pilot’s license, several well-respected accredited colleges offer aviation degrees in partnership with flight schools.
Types of federal student loan assistance you might receive for aviation school include:
- Direct Subsidized Loan: Available to students enrolled in an accredited flight school or college of aeronautics who meet financial need criteria. The government pays the loan interest for qualifying students while in school.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Available to all students enrolled in an accredited flight school or college of aeronautics. Students do not need to demonstrate financial need and are responsible for all accrued interest.
- Direct PLUS Loan: Available to parents or legal guardians of dependent children to help pay student tuition at an accredited flight school or college of aeronautics. Loan eligibility is determined by credit history.
- Federal Pell Grant: The Federal Pell Grant is awarded based on students’ financial needs and does not have to be repaid (2022-2023 maximum award is $6495). Pell Grants are restricted to undergraduate students.
Private Student Loans
Many aspiring aviators finance some portion of their flight training with personal loans, private student loans, or a combination of the two. (Check out this helpful list of private lenders.)
Certain banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer private loans geared towards flight school. Sallie Mae is a popular source of career training student loans; interest rates and terms are variable. College Ave offers well-received career training loans. Loan provider Meritize bases educational loans on merit, not just credit score, and payment is deferred until training is complete. Check with your flight school of choice to determine loan program eligibility.
There are some drawbacks to private loans. If you have less than perfect credit, you may have a more difficult time getting approved or have to pay a higher interest rate. And some private loan repayment plans kick in while you’re still in school. Be strategic about using private financing for flight school and take advantage of any federal aid, grants, and scholarships that you can first.
Other Flight School Financing
Numerous grants and scholarships are available to help you finance your aviation training and education. Look at AOPA’s multiple scholarship opportunities.
And be sure to make inquiries as you research flight schools; many offer helpful financing options.
How to Apply for Flight School Financial Aid
Applying for Federal Student Aid
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines the federal financial aid available to you and is integral to the college application process.
While many flight schools are not eligible to accept federal financial aid, complete and submit the FAFSA if you are considering any accredited aviation program. Make a note of FAFSA deadlines and apply early!
Applying for Private Loans
Streamline the private or personal loan application and approval process by doing your homework and preparing ahead.
Check your credit score, get prequalified with a few select lenders, compare loan terms, gather required loan documents in advance, and then apply.
Applying for Other Loans & Financing
Start early! The sooner you apply for grants and scholarships that are a good fit, the better your chances of success.
Think about what makes you unique in pursuing an aviation career, identify suitable funding sources, develop thoughtful proposals and applications, and apply early in the funding cycle.
Who Is Eligible for Flight School Financial Aid?
If you are enrolled at an accredited or approved flight school program, are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and have a high school diploma or the equivalency, you qualify for most student loans or financial aid.
Financial Aid & Pureflight Aviation Training
At Pureflight Aviation Training, your success is our success. We are an FAA-certified Part 141 flight school, offering first-class, comprehensive helicopter and airplane flight training.
We partner with Klamath Community College to provide the flight training for their AAS Aviation Airplane and Helicopter degree program. Complete your pilot training and certification with Pureflight while earning your associate degree. As an accredited aviation school, we accept student loans.
Our team of experienced, dedicated flight professionals is here to help start you on an exciting aviation career path. We’re happy to answer your questions about flight school. Contact us to learn more!