By Breanna Trost
Flight school is expensive; with every flight you take, your pocketbook shrinks. It’s an unfortunate consequence of becoming a pilot. While the costs vary from place to place, prices are still high no matter where you get your training. With dreams of becoming a pilot and an empty bank account, it’s time to find ways to pay for flight training.
The first option is to borrow the money, either from your family or through financial aid programs. Borrowing money from your family is not always advisable because it can create unwanted tension between relatives. But if you are confident (or desperate) enough ask for help, then it is a cheaper solution than financial aid since your family will generally not ask for interest. Financial aid grants and loans are typically available through accredited colleges, universities, and trade school flight academies. This type of financial aid is sponsored by the U.S. federal government and you apply using the free FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) application form. Check with the schools you’re interested in to see if they offer federal student financial aid programs. If they do, they can help you with questions about how it all works and with filing the appropriate paperwork. However, if the school you want to attend does not offer financial aid programs, you may need to get even more creative.
Another option is to obtain a personal loan or loans through lending institutions such as Sally Mae, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and many others. Private loans look at your credit score, and if it is low or you do not have a score you’ll need to find someone with a good credit score to co-sign your loan. With proper search and diligence, a personal loan may be found.
Every young pilot’s dream is to win a grant or scholarship that will get them through flight school. But for most students a scholarship is a dream, not reality, as it is extremely competitive to get one. However, with persistence and fabulous grades, a scholarship or grant could be within your grasp. A few aviation scholarship types include flight training, avionics technician, aerospace engineer, and sport pilot. It also helps to look into your past to see if you apply for any random, but very real scholarships. For example, if you have an ancestor that was a Native American, it is possible to apply to the Native American Scholarship. But keep in mind scholarships can be very tricky, and require time-consuming paperwork, but if you succeed in landing one, it will be worth the effort. The Wolf Aviation Fund awards grants each year to individuals who wish to learn more about aviation. They encourage anyone who wishes to receive a grant to apply. The only catch is they generally do not give out awards to people who wish to do individual flight training. Although grants my be harder to find than scholarships, they can be just as useful.