Learning to fly can be very expensive. Depending on your goals and the type of license or certification you need, you can expect to pay as little as a few thousand dollars or as much as $100,000.
These costs includes all the flight training you’ll need as well as other expenses you might need to cover like ground school, airplane rentals, test fees, and more.
Here is a quick overview of how much people often spend earning the various pilot licenses:
- Sport Pilot License: $3,000 to $7,000
- Recreational Pilot License: $5,000 to $8,000
- Private Pilot License: $15,000 to $20,000
- Flight Instructor: $5,000 (in addition to previous training)
- Commercial Pilot License: $30,000
- Airline Transport Pilot: Up to $100,000
These prices sometimes scare people away from even beginning their journey to become a pilot.
That shouldn’t be the case however, since the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Acquiring a valuable skill like flying is not only rewarding on a personal level, it can also lead to a very lucrative career.
What we’ve done is put together the ultimate list of ways to help cover these expenses. This list includes options to pay as you go, finance with loans, or in some cases even get free money to pay for your flight schooling.
Flight School/Aviation Loans
There is a variety of lenders that offer loans specific to aviation training and flight school. The specifics of the loan terms (how much they borrow you, rates, payment, etc) depends on each institution and what program they have set up.
If you are looking to obtain some kind of financing for your flight training, this is a great place to start. Since many of these programs are specifically tailored to those looking to learn to fly they offer favorable terms and know exactly how to handle your request.
Here is a list we’ve put together of some of the more popular lenders that have programs for flight training:
- AOPA Flight Training Financing (through Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association)
- ATP Flight School Financing
- Lending Tree: Flight Schools Loans
- Pilot Finance.com
- We Florida Financial (We Fly)
- Aspire Loans
Some of these lenders specialize in helping you get financial for your personal aviation needs, while others specialize in helping those who want to make flying their career. Make sure you look at all your available options and choose the best one for your situation.
If you plan on becoming a professional pilot and attending an accredited school, you might qualify to get a federal student loan. These are federal student loans meant to cover the cost of an education. They feature low rates and a standardized process to get approved.
These features make these loans a great option for those looking to become an airline pilot in the future or are planning to attend a university to study aviation.
For more information you should visit them on their website below:
Follow the above link to learn about how the process works and even apply online.
Many banks offer loans that can be used for a variety of reasons without the bank even asking what the funds will be used for. They offer the benefit of having a fixed rate and a fixed monthly payment until the loan is paid off.
An option like this is great because instead of looking at a large expense as being a $10,000 hit, you can pay $250/month until it’s paid off (I used those numbers as an example, the amount you need to borrow, the interest rate, and monthly payment will depend on the loan the bank offers)
If you can afford to work a few hundred dollars per month into your budget, this might be a great option for you to pay for your flight training and not have to stress about coming up with the money in one large payment.
Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit
If you own your home and have built up equity since you bought it you might be able to take out a home equity loan to pay for flight school.
How this works is the bank or financial institution will use your home as collateral when they borrow you the money. This allows you to have a much lower interest rate since the loan is lower risk to the bank.
The amount of money you can borrow this way depends on things like your credit as well as how much equity (current value minus existing loans) on your home at this point. Many lenders will go as high as 90% of the value of your home, which can give you a great resource to borrow at very low rates.
If this is something that interests you, one place to start is wherever you do your regular banking. Many banks offer these types of loans and lines of credit so you can ask about them by calling or stopping into a local bank branch.
Otherwise, here are a few of the larger lenders that offer home equity loans at great rates:
If this is the route you go, make sure you do your homework and compare the rates between the different lenders. Flight training can be expensive so every dollar counts!
A federal grant is another way to pay for a portion of your flight training.
If you aren’t familiar with grants, they are a literally free money from the government to help pay for your educational needs. The specific grant in this case is called a Pell Grant.
The Pell Grant is awarded based on financial need and can cover as much as $5,500 worth of education and does NOT need to be paid back.
You can find more information on the U.S. Government Site for the Pell Grant below
There are many organizations out there that offer scholarships to help people achieve their dream of learning to fly. The details of what they cover and who qualifies can vary based on the organization.
Below is a list we’ve put together of scholarships. Take a look and see if any of these might apply to your situation.
- AOPA Scholarships (through the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association)
- Future & Active Pilot Advisors
- Women in Aviation Scholarship
- Ninety Nine
This is just a small taste of how many are out there. For a more complete list, check out the amazing resource at Scholarships.com.
Believe it or not, using credit cards may be an option for learning to fly. If you are going to be working towards one of the lower cost licenses so you can fly for fun (Sport, Recreational, Private) many flight schools offer the option to pay as you go.
If you have access to a low interest credit card you might be able to take advantage of one of these offers to pay for your flight training. You’ll obviously still have to pay the money back, but if you are doing this as part of your plan to cover expenses up front, it could work great.
Not only are there a lot of credit card companies offering cards with near 0% rates when you first sign up, you also can earn points and cash back bonuses.
Work as a Flight Instructor
One of the main reasons that earning any pilot license is so expensive is due to the number of hours you have to have of practice. Renting an airplane and hiring an instructor can be very expensive.
One way to significantly lower the cost of earning your ATP (airline transport pilot) designation is to first get as far as earning your CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) designation. The hours you spend teaching others to fly will count towards the large number of hours you need for your license. So, instead of spending a ton of money gaining experience, you can make extra money and essentially fly for free.
If this is something you might be interested in, make sure to ask about it when you talk to your flight school. They will likely be able to give you great advice and insight into how to do this for yourself.
Join the Military
Joining the military is a big life decision and not to be taken lightly. If your goal is to become a pilot within the military you’ll have to dedicate a lot of time to going through training, higher education, officers training, and learning to fly with them. This is not something you do just to save money on pilot training.
Although it sounds like a lot of work (and it should) this will give you the opportunity to not only learn to fly, but to pilot some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.
If you’d like to learn more about how to serve your country while also learning to pilot the most incredible aircraft in the sky, check out the following links.
If you served in the military, you might be eligible to use the GI Bill to pay for flight school.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, you can use your benefits to pay for:
- a degree program that consists of flight training at a public university
- a degree program that consists of flight training at a private university
- a vocational program at a stand alone Part 141 flight school
There are certain criteria you have to meet in order to take advantage. For a more detailed breakdown of the program and it’s requirements, check out the VA’s page on the topic here:
If you plan to learn to fly, it’s a good idea to start putting some money aside in your savings as soon as possible. Having some money saved up for flight training when you first start will make life much easier than if you need to finance the entire amount.
The other benefit to having money saved up when you start is that you won’t risk running out of money and then need to feel like you’re starting all over in a few months when you have money again.
Saving money isn’t always the easiest thing to do, so I recommend you open a savings account specifically for your future flight training and start putting away a little bit if money at a time. It adds up quickly and you’ll be glad you did.
They say the best time to start saving was in the past, but the 2nd best time is right now. Open that savings account right away.
Commercial Pilot & a Flight Job
Another way to not only save on how much you have to spend on flight training but actually get paid to fly is to take a job as a commercial pilot.
In order to do this, you’ll first have to earn your private pilot license and then go on to earn your commercial pilot license. Once you’ve done this you can take on jobs that pay you to fly. If want to someday earn your air transport pilot license and become a pilot for a major airline, you’ll need a lot of hours in the air.
This option not only makes a ton of sense financially, but gives you a great opportunity to get a ton of experience.
There are also a variety of jobs you can get as a pilot before you’re ready to be an actual airline pilot. Some examples include being a cargo pilot, banner tow pilot, skydive jump pilot, survey pilot, and more.
Airline Sponsored Training
Many of the major airlines have programs to help potential pilots cover the costs of flight school and pilot training.
In these programs you would be hired by a specific airline and put through training so that you can eventually work for them as a pilot. You’ll have to meet all of their requirements and pass all of the training, but considering they can help cover a large portion of your expenses, it might very well be worth it.
Here is a list of programs at some of the airlines here in the United States:
- ATP Flight School
- American Airlines Cadet Program
- JetBlue Pilot Gateway Program
- Envoy Air Cadet Program
- PSA Airlines
- Air Wisconsin Airlines
If you have interest in becoming an airline pilot I would recommend you do your research on these opportunities and try to take advantage of any free training or reimbursement available to you.
As you can see, there are lots of creative ways to help cover the cost of earning your pilot license. Like any other big life decision, make sure to take the time to do your research before making any decisions.
A good plan of action is to start by thinking about which pilot license will get you where you want to be. After that you can work with a few schools to get a clear idea of the total costs. Then, you can go through the resources on this page and see which one is the best fit.
If you want more information on which of the different pilot licenses is for you, don’t hesitate to check out our guide to the different pilot licenses.
Also, if you think you’re ready to take to the sky and aren’t sure where to go next, make sure you look at our guide to choosing a flight school.
Here are some of the common questions we often hear when it comes to paying for flight train.
Does FAFSA cover Flight School?
You might qualify for federal student loans. It will depend on the institution you will be studying at and the program/course of study. FAFSA typically covers coursework at an accredited college. So, in this case some aviation programs through colleges and universities might be covered while something like your flight training at a local flight school to earn your private pilot license will not. For more info on federal student loans, make sure to visit their website.
Will my credit affect how much flight school costs?
Although the flight school itself won’t charge you a different rate depending on your credit, if you plan to finance your flight training your credit score will have a dramatic influence on the rate and amount of interest you pay. If you have issues on your credit report, it’s worth trying to get them corrected as soon as you can.
Only students attending flight schools that accept the FAFSA can qualify for a Pell grant. The annual Pell grant amount ranges from $650 to $6,895. Like scholarships, Pell grants do not need to be repaid. You can receive a Pell grant for a maximum of six semesters.
You may be eligible for flight training benefits if you meet all of these requirements. All of these must be true: You qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill, and. You have a private pilot's license, and.How to afford private pilot license? ›
- Minimize Flight Time. Ultimate Guide. ...
- Shop Around for Instructors and Aircraft. ...
- Pay Upfront and Ask For a Discount. ...
- Buy Used Aviation Supplies. ...
- Buy, Fly, Then Sell an Aircraft. ...
- Airline-Sponsored Training. Many major airlines provide education benefits to potential pilots. ...
- Credit Card Payment. ...
- Federal Student Loans. ...
- Flight School Loan. ...
- GI Bill. ...
- Home Equity Loan. ...
- Join the Military. ...
- Pell Grant.
Using a 529 Plan
Many people may not realize that you can pay for flight training with your 529 plan. Some plans may have certain restrictions, so reach out to your financial institution to see if your 529 plan can help pay for your flight training.
Private and state-funded student flight school loans have different eligibility criteria, making them an accessible option for many cadets. These loans are typically offered through banks, private lending organizations, or private savings.Will the military pay for a PPL? ›
The reason why the VA will not pay towards getting a private pilot's license is GI Bill entitlement is supposed to be used to learning a vocational skill that can be used as a career, but many earning their private pilot's license only want to be able to fly as an avocation and not vocation.Will the GI Bill pay for a pilot's license? ›
Yes, the GI Bill can be used towards attending a Part 141 accredited flight training program to get your commercial pilot license (CPL) or Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, and will pay for flights, tuition, books, fees, and supplies.Is it hard to be a pilot? ›
Overall, becoming a pilot is a challenging but rewarding process. Even though flight training requires a lot of hard work and dedication at times, students have access to a wide range of resources to help them accomplish their flight training.What is the cheapest pilot license? ›
|Private Pilot||$15,000 – $20,000|
|Commercial Pilot||$55,000 – $100,000|
Pilot training in India cost about 35-40 lacs from a DGCA approved reputed flight school, for getting a Commercial Pilot license along with a multi-engine instrument rating.What is the easiest pilot license to get? ›
A sport pilot is the easiest and least restrictive certificate a student can obtain. It's meant for those pilots who wish to fly in light aircraft only, at low altitudes in their local area.How much do Delta pilots get paid? ›
Delta first officer pay ranges from $92 to $242 per hour, while Delta captain pay ranges from $238 to $334 per hour. You can generally just add three zeroes to the end of that to roughly figure out annual pay, though with Delta it's usually even a bit higher than that, thanks to profit sharing.Is there an age limit to become a pilot? ›
An individual must be 16 years old to solo an aircraft, 17 years old to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate, 18 years old to obtain a Commercial Pilot Certificate and 23 years old to obtain an Airline Transport Certificate. FAR Part 121 (major airline regulations) require all pilots to retire at the age of 65.Will airlines pay for college? ›
Many of the airlines provide tuition reimbursement, low-interest private loans and scholarships to assist flight school students. “Through JP Morgan Chase, we offer $2 million in scholarships and multiple loan programs,” Bonner said.Can you claim flight school expenses on taxes? ›
If your flying is purely personal in nature, you will not be able to take a tax deduction for flight training expenses. So, at the end of the day, you may be able to convince your accountant to let you go ahead with your flight training and justify it with the tax write-off.What a 529 Cannot be used for? ›
You cannot use a 529 plan to buy or rent a car, maintain a vehicle, or pay for other travel costs. If you use a 529 distribution to pay for this type of expense, those distributions are considered non-qualified.Is it hard to get pilot job without a degree? ›
The answer is no. Getting an aviation degree or going to an aviation college is not a requirement to become an airline pilot. In fact, major airlines accept any and all bachelor fields and aren't the least bit concerned with what you studied in college.How can I become a pilot without spending a lot of money? ›
- Does such a thing really exist as free pilot training if you want to be a pilot but no money? ...
- Air Cadet Air Experience Flights. ...
- Air Cadet Gliding Scholarships and advanced glider training. ...
- Air cadet flying scholarships. ...
- Honourable Company of Air Pilots flying scholarships and bursaries.
No, you do not need a degree to work as a pilot, although having a degree will help in advancing your career at most stages and especially in making the final move to a major airline.
Commercial airline pilots are still in short supply, but the outlook is less severe today than it was a year ago. Over the past year, airlines have been working hard to address the shortage. In 2022, many airlines cut back service to less popular and rural destinations because of the scarcity of pilots.How long is pilot school? ›
Ideally, becoming a pilot should only take 3 to 4 years, the time it takes to get your Bachelor of Science in Professional Flight. Getting an education is also good for a consistency of training, so it's preferred to wait to start your journey until you are in a certified school, like LETU.Does military pay my bills? ›
Financial Bills: Servicemembers are responsible for their household expenses/bills while they are deployed. These expenses could include rent, mortgage payments, car payments, credit cards, etc. Before deploying you should ensure that you have made arrangements for these payments to be taken care of.Which GI Bill pays you? ›
The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) helps you pay for school or job training. If you've served on active duty after September 10, 2001, you may qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33). Find out if you can get this education benefit.Are military pilots licensed? ›
The military does not offer certification or licensing for military pilots. During the advanced portion of your civilian flight training, though, you must pass the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) guidelines and regulations.Can I use my GI Bill to become a helicopter pilot? ›
Yes, the GI Bill can be used to pay for helicopter school tuition and fees, as well as housing, books, and supplies, for helicopter training at an FAA Part 141 Accredited Flight School.What is the hardest thing to be a pilot? ›
- 7) Getting Into "School Mode" ...
- 6) "Radio Talk" ...
- 5) Decoding Textual Weather. ...
- 4) Aerodynamics. ...
- 3) Learning Regulations. ...
- 2) The National Airspace System. ...
- 1) Aircraft Systems.
The answer is no. While some airlines have an age requirement before you can fly a commercial flight, there's no age limit in wanting to become a pilot. Many think that at age 40, they have missed their opportunity to become a pilot.What percentage of student pilots quit? ›
One statistic commonly quoted is based on a 2011 study by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which found only 20% of flight school students achieve their private pilot certification.Is 70 too old to get pilot license? ›
In the U.S., there are no FAA age limits for pilots except for commercial airline pilots employed by airlines certificated under 14 CFR Part 121. These airlines cannot employ pilots after they reach the age of 65.
- Be 23 years old or greater.
- Hold a Commercial Pilots License and instrument rating.
- Have flown 50 hours in a multi-engine airplane.
- Complete an approved ATP training program.
- Have flown 1500 qualifying hours.
- Have passed all ATP knowledge and practical tests.
The Cessna 150/152 is a great plane for beginner pilots as it is extremely easy to handle and costs significantly less to purchase than a Diamond DA-40/42. Plus, it is comfortable and roomy, so it is perfect for anyone who may feel intimidated by the tight seating of a Diamond.Is 55 too old to become a pilot? ›
While starting a career in aviation as a young pilot has benefits like gaining experience as years go on, there is a steadily growing number of mature professionals deciding to take up the pilot's hat in their 40s and 50s.What is the shortest way to become a pilot? ›
Accelerated Flight School
These schools will allow students to receive all their initial certifications and ratings in as little as 10 months. This will be the fastest way to an airline career.
The reality is that you only become too old to start flight training when you can no longer hold a class one medical. However, if you are starting your training over the age of around forty, what you are looking to achieve takes some serious consideration.Is pilot worth the cost? ›
Yes, being a pilot is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for airline and commercial pilots over the next ten years. This is faster than the average growth for all occupations.How much is a small plane? ›
An ultralight aircraft can usually be purchased new for an average range of $8000 to $15,000. Single-engine planes will typically cost between $15,000 and $100,000.Is it cheaper to travel as a private pilot? ›
Whether you save money or not flying yourself will heavily depend on the trip length. Usually, short- and medium-length trips are more affordable in your own airplane, and day trips are almost always more affordable, particularly on short notice, when you fly yourself.Which pilot license takes the longest? ›
The commercial pilot license is not only the point at which you become a professional pilot but also the license that takes the longest to attain.What is the best first job as a pilot? ›
But your best chance of landing an entry level job is as a flight instructor. And future employers see it as a positive mark on a pilot's resume when they have flight instructing experience. Going the flight instructor route will not only set you up for current success but also future success.
Hence, who is this mysterious pilot that broke the world record? Even beating our previous record. The pilot in question is Jiva Ananthan Viseikumaran, a Singaporean Army Captain. With his previous training in the army, Jiva is a dedicated and hard working student pilot.Can a pilot make 500k? ›
However, some Southwest pilots earn as much as $549,000. Similarly, United Airlines pilots earn an average of $205,000. The average Delta Airlines pilot earns $192,000 with top-earners making $526,000. American Airlines pilots earn an average salary of $118,000, with some pilots earning in excess of $700,000.How much do FedEx pilots make starting out? ›
FedEx First Officer Pay:
Year 1: $75,000. Year 5: $165,000. Year 15: $203,000.
As of Apr 15, 2023, the average annual pay for the Boeing 747 Pilot jobs category in Staten Island is $70,981 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $34.13 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,365/week or $5,915/month.What is the age 60 rule for pilots? ›
In 1959, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the Airline Age 60 rule subjecting all commercial airline pilots-or those pilots who fly planes with more than thirty-five passengers-to mandatory retirement at age sixty as a safety precaution.Can a 90 year old fly on a plane? ›
"Ability to travel is not a function of age," says Schaefer, who writes a blog about senior travel. "It's determined by your physical and mental fitness."Can 2 pilots over 60 fly together? ›
Currently, while the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards allow a person between the age of 60 and 65 to serve as pilot in command (PIC) of an airplane with two or more pilots, in international commercial air transport operations, the PIC must be paired with a pilot younger than 60 years of age.Can you use financial aid to become a pilot? ›
Financial Aid, such as Stafford Loans and Pell Grants, that can be requested through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can not be used to help cover the costs of flight training at ATP. This type of aid is meant to assist students with college coursework. ATP is not a college.Can you use FAFSA money for travel? ›
You'll need to fill out a FAFSA form before you can receive federal student aid to study abroad. To determine which types of aid you'll be able to use for your study-abroad program, contact the financial aid office at your American school.Does FAFSA cover boarding? ›
In short, financial aid does cover the cost of room and board up to certain limits. Here's what you need to know. Each academic year, every college and university that distributes federal financial aid publishes a cost of attendance list.
Yes, you can apply federal grants, government/industry scholarships, federal student loans, or independent loans toward your flight training at Polk State College. Please be aware that the cost of flight training is very high and is not included in the cost of course tuition.Does GPA matter to become a pilot? ›
If your GPA is anywhere from a 3.0 to a 4.0 and you have considerable other qualifications and experience, you'll likely be viewed favorably. If you want to pilot for a hobby, your GPA is not quite as important.Can you write-off pilot license? ›
So it probably would come as no surprise to hear that it is nearly impossible to deduct the cost of acquiring a private pilot certificate. Pilots are not singled out here. The IRS makes it clear to attorneys that they may not deduct the cost of acquiring a law degree either.Is owning a plane a tax write-off? ›
The most obvious tax benefit is the depreciation deduction. The IRS allows a taxpayer to deduct the full cost of a private jet or aircraft in the year it is placed in service. There are also a number of other tax benefits to purchasing a private jet in 2022, which we'll cover now.How do I write-off a jet on my taxes? ›
If the plane is used only for business purposes, it can be expensed or written off in the year that it is acquired, Gleckman said. If the plane is used for both business and personal uses, it generally can be written off over a period of years. If it has only personal uses, there is no write-off, experts said.How much cash can you have for FAFSA? ›
There are no income limits on the FAFSA. Instead, your eligibility for federal student aid depends on how much your college costs and what your family should contribute. Learn how your FAFSA eligibility is calculated and other ways to pay for college if you don't qualify for federal student aid.What counts as cash for FAFSA? ›
Assets you SHOULD include on the FAFSA
These are counted as assets that you need to include on your FAFSA: Money in checking accounts, cash and savings accounts. Real estate. While FAFSA does not consider your parent's primary residence as an asset, you need to declare the net worth of any additional property.
Typically, the school first applies your grant or loan money toward your tuition, fees, and (if you live on campus) room and board. Any money left over is paid to you directly for other education expenses.Does FAFSA have to be paid back? ›
FAFSA is not the financial aid itself, as it is just an application, so you do not have to pay anything back in that regard. However, students may use the term FAFSA to refer to the financial aid awarded after the student files the FAFSA.Does FAFSA cover food? ›
Federal student aid from ED covers such expenses as tuition and fees, housing and food, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid can also help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care.
- Girard College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- The Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, Hawaii.
- The Milton Hershey School, Hershey, Pennsylvania.