How to Pay for Your Dream. Having a dream of becoming a pilot and getting behind the controls of an aircraft to guide it into the clouds is the start of a great life reaching for the stars. But that first step of getting your pilot’s license is a big one. Not only is flight school challenging and something that will take significant effort and time, it’s quite an expense as well.
Flight schools are not cheap. Offering instruction in getting a pilot’s license means employing highly trained and skilled instructors who are skilled pilots. In addition to the expenses of running classrooms, flight schools must be able to help you complete 40-50 hours of actual flight time which involves one on one time with that instructor. So flight schools must provide the airplanes along with the mechanics to keep those planes in good repair. All of that is expensive and that is built into the cost of your training.
So to make your dream a reality, sometimes you have to get a student loan or some financial aid to get where you want to go in the airline industry. Like any other form of education, there is assistance available if you know how to get it. So you are determined not to give up on your dream, you will have to make finding financial backing as much of a project as getting through flight school and getting that pilot’s license.
One often untapped resource are grants from organizations or companies that benefit from a fresh supply of good pilots. You can find out at your nearest airport the types of organizations out there that have grants for students who need help with flight school. Pilot fraternal organizations as well as men’s clubs like the Boy Scouts, the Lions Club or the Shriners often have scholarships for deserving students. If you have an adult relative in one of these groups or you are a member or an alumni of one of these groups, check out any grants they might have before you go to strangers.
Another clever way to get financial aid is to look for colleges that offer a full degree in aviation and flying. Often these schools operate a fully funded flight school as part of that curriculum. And if you enroll in an accredited college or university, the scholarship and federal student loan program through FAFSA is always there to be of help. Another “back door” trick to get free tuition and even some funding from the school is to go to work for the school or have a parent do so. Often colleges give free schooling to employees and their kids as part of their employee benefits.
But even if you are working with a school that is only about training pilots, talk to the administration because they may know of more grants or student loans you may qualify for. Before you start on this quest, make sure you have your financial documentation in order. That means have your tax documents all gathered up as well as bank records, pay stubs or anything else that document your financial status and can be used to demonstrate financial need for assistance.
The school can be an important partner to you in finding the funding you need. There may be existing federal programs like the Pell Grant or the Stafford or Perkins loan programs that will work to get you the money you need to get through flight school. Again, getting logged in with the FAFSA program is essential to go after any government funding but once you are approved by FAFSA, the government will most likely guarantee any student loan you need. That means banks and credit unions will welcome you with open arms when you come to them for a student loan.
You may actually be surprised how much financial aid is out there to help you realize your dream. If you must pay for your schooling with a student loan, don’t despair going into debt. Once you get your pilot’s license, your market value will skyrocket and you can pay the loan off from the good job you get in the aviation industry. And it’s worth going through that loan process because in the end when you have realized your dream of becoming a pilot, you will be able to sour above the clouds piloting an airplane and you will be grateful for anyone who helped you along the way.