Flight School Financing: How To Get Financing for Flight School

If you’re interested in beginning flight school, you may be asking yourself, how do I begin financing my way through? Similar to how you may begin your research for college, it’s important to find out how much flight school will cost you. Once you have that information, you can begin the process of researching the different financing options on how to get financing for flight school. It’s also important to understand how financing flight school will work for you. Let’s review this information below. 

How Much Does Flight School Cost? 

First it’s important to know approximately how much it will cost you to attend flight school. Most flight schools will end up costing roughly $70,000-$90,000 if you are planning to fly commercial airlines. The best thing you can do is start by checking with the closest flight school to see what their cost is and what financing options they offer. Once you are aware of what you’ll be spending to obtain your pilot’s license, you can begin the financing process. 

How Does Flight School Financing Work?  

Obtaining financing for flight school is slightly different from financing for your typical college experience. Depending on the flight school that you choose to attend, you may need to check if they are nationally accredited, as this can affect what type of loan you are able to take out. You also need to make sure that the school you have chosen to attend will accept loans as payment. 

Assuming the school you choose does accept loans, the first step you will need to take is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Following this step, there are several options you may qualify for depending on your financial situation. 

6 Options for Flight School Financing

Filling out the FAFSA form is only one option for obtaining flight school financing. Let’s review what happens after you fill out this application, as well as other options to obtain financing. 

Federal Student Loans

There are several options that you may qualify for if you are able to use government funded loans. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, or direct plus loans. Let’s explore these in more detail.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: The Department of Education may offer this loan to you if you can prove that you have a financial need via tax returns. This also comes with a limit as to how much you may borrow.  
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Similar to subsidized loans, in that there is a limit to how much you may borrow. However, with Direct Unsubsidized Loans, you do not need to prove any kind of financial hardship.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: This loan is available for parents and may require a credit check in order to receive it. With this loan, parents may borrow up to the cost of tuition with any student loan amounts subtracted from the total amount borrowed. 

Loans From Private Lenders

Private lending loans are an option not obtained by the government and instead obtained by private institutions. However, since flight school is considered a trade school, it may be more difficult to obtain a private loan. It’s also important to note that private lending loans may have different interest rates and loan limits than federal loans. They also may have different requirements in order for you to be eligible for them, including checking your credit history. 

Scholarships & Grants

It’s also possible to get scholarships or qualify for grants. Many schools offer scholarships for certain programs. However, there are eligibility requirements that must be met for some scholarships, so it is important to research what scholarships you’re applying for. 

When you fill out your FAFSA application, you may also qualify for pell grants depending on how severe your financial need is. A Pell grant is an amount of money given to those students with financial need that is not required to be paid back. However, you will need to prove that you have financial need, typically via tax returns. 

School Assistance

When researching the flight school you plan to attend, you should check to see if the school itself offers any kind of assistance. This is an example of when it can be important to know if your school is nationally recognized. Most nationally recognized flight schools will offer loans or assistance for their students. There are also some programs that may offer free financial aid if you decide to attend their program. 

Pilot Training Financing

Pilot training financing can be another option in addition to federal student loans. Many companies will offer individual assistance for aviation training on top of student loans, depending on your location and what training you choose to go through. 

Airline Specific Training Programs

Some airlines offer assistance if you decide to do your pilot training while working for them. It may be beneficial to start thinking early on about where you plan on working and check with that company to see what kind of assistance they may offer. 

For example, airlines such as JetBlue and Delta each offer a pathway for pilot training. JetBlue has a program that allows you to obtain a position while putting you through appropriate training and guaranteeing a position once you are finished. If you are a current employee of Delta that is looking to become a pilot, Delta has a specific program for you. These programs may be more costly; however, they may be worth it depending on your financial situation. 

Where To Begin Financing for Flight School

It can seem overwhelming at first with so many options available for financing flight school. The best thing you can do to begin is to check your current financial situation and see what you will be able to afford. Then you can start researching different flight schools and what financial assistance options are available for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to different schools to see what kind of loans, scholarships, or assistance they may offer. If you need some help with where to begin, you can always subscribe to FLYING Magazine to help guide you through all the steps related to the aviation industry. 


Does fafsa cover flight school?

Possibly. You will need to check with the flight school of your choice to make sure it is nationally accredited, as this will determine if you can use fafsa. 

Can I get a student loan to become a pilot?

Most likely! Again, it will be important to check with your flight school to make sure they accept student loans and to make sure they are nationally accredited to qualify for fafsa.

How do I become a pilot with no money?

Your best option is to research flight schools to see what they accept as forms of payment. Once you have done this, you may start the financing process by filling out free applications to see if you qualify for loans. 


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