Flight School Loans: How to Pay for Aviation School

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While becoming a pilot could be an adventurous career, it can also be expensive. Just earning a private pilot’s license can cost over $11,000, while the tuition to earn a commercial pilot’s license will cost a minimum of $83,995, according to L3Harris.

However, there are a few ways to potentially pay for flight school, including student loans.

Here’s what you need to know about flight school loans:

3 private student loans for flight school

Many private flight schools aren’t attached to a university and don’t offer degree programs, which makes them ineligible for student loans from most private lenders. However, there are a few lenders that provide private student loans that can be used to pay for flight school.

Note that College Ave and Sallie Mae are both Credible partner lenders while ZuntaFi is not.

Lender Fixed Rates From (APR) Variable Rates From (APR) Loan terms (years) Loan amounts


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.34%+2,3 1.04%+2,3 5, 8, 10, 15 $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Fixed APR:
    3.34%+2,3
  • Variable APR:
    1.04%+2,3
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 8, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 24 months
  • Loan servicer:
    College Ave Servicing LLC


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

4.25% – 12.59%9 1.13% – 11.23%9 5 to 15 Up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Fixed APR:
    4.25% – 12.59%9
  • Variable APR:
    1.13% – 11.23%9
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years):
    5 to 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Also available to non-U.S. citizen students (including DACA students) attending a school located in the U.S. who apply with a qualifying cosigner.
  • Customer service:
    Phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 12 consecutive on-time payments
  • Loan servicer:
    Sallie Mae
ZuntaFi N/A Check with lender 20 $5,000 to $100,000
Compare private student loan rates without affecting
your credit score. 100% free!
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College Ave

If you’re attending a flight school program attached to a college or university, College Ave could be a good choice for a flight school loan. With College Ave’s Career Loan, you can borrow $1,000 up to your school-certified cost of attendance with repayment terms from five to 15 years.


4.9


Credible rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

College Ave Private Student Loans

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  • Fixed APR: 3.34%+2,3
  • Variable APR: 1.04%+2,3
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 8, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, full monthly payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 months
  • Loan servicer: College Ave Servicing LLC

Pros

  • Might be able to borrow up to your school’s cost of attendance
  • Could earn a $150 cashback reward if you complete your program
  • Multiple repayment options available

Cons

  • Not available to borrowers attending a flight school not attached to a college or university
  • Doesn’t disclose minimum income or credit requirements
  • Can’t apply for cosigner release until more than half of the scheduled repayment period has elapsed

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Loans are specifically designed for students attending non-degree-granting schools — such as flight schools — to earn professional training or trade certificates.

You can borrow $1,000 up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance with terms from five to 15 years.


4.3


Credible rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

Sallie Mae Private Student Loans

Ready to find a student loan?
Compare rates from top private lenders to find the right student loan for you.

Check Personalized Rates

Checking rates won’t affect your credit score

  • Fixed APR: 4.25% – 12.59%9
  • Variable APR: 1.13% – 11.23%9
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years): 5 to 15
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Also available to non-U.S. citizen students (including DACA students) attending a school located in the U.S. who apply with a qualifying cosigner.
  • Customer service: Phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 12 consecutive on-time payments
  • Loan servicer: Sallie Mae

Pros

  • Might be able to borrow up to your school’s cost of attendance
  • Available to students attending non-degree-granting schools
  • 0.25% autopay discount

Cons

  • Doesn’t disclose minimum income or credit requirements
  • Rates can be higher compared to other private lenders
  • Only two repayment options available

ZuntaFi

ZuntaFi is the only major lender that provides student loans specialized for flight school students. You can borrow $5,000 to $100,000 with a 20-year repayment term.

Pros

  • Might be able to borrow up to $100,000
  • 20-year term can help keep payments manageable
  • 0.25% autopay discount

Cons

  • Fixed rates not offered
  • Long cosigner release period (72 months)
  • Only one repayment term available (20 years)

Learn More: How to Take Out a Student Loan

How much does flight school cost?

The estimated tuition for receiving a commercial pilot’s license is $83,995. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include other costs, such as:

  • Books and supplies
  • Application fees
  • Electronic training materials
  • Transportation

Flight school programs can last anywhere from a few months to over two years, depending on the school.

Unlike a traditional bachelor’s degree, which will have a big price tag spread out over four years, the potentially six-figure cost of flight school is compressed into just over a year’s worth of training — which could be more difficult to pay for without a loan.

Keep in mind: Costs could vary if you attend a flight school attached to a university, as you’ll likely need to earn a traditional degree in addition to flight training.

Check Out: How to Pay for College With No Money Saved

How to pay for flight school

If you need to pay for flight school, follow these four steps:

1. Search for scholarships and grants

Unlike student loans, college scholarships and grants don’t have to be repaid — which makes them a great way to pay for flight school. There’s no limit to how many scholarships and grants you can get, so it’s a good idea to apply for as many as you can.

There are scholarships specifically available for students attending flight school and other aviation programs, including:

Learn More: How to Apply to College and When You Should Apply

2. Apply for federal student loans and financial aid

If you need to borrow for flight school, it’s usually a good idea to start with federal student loans. This is mainly because they come with federal student loan benefits and protections, such as access to income-driven repayment plans as well as deferment and forbearance options.

Unfortunately, because flight schools are typically viewed as trade schools, they often don’t have the accreditation needed to be eligible for federal financial aid.

However, if you’re attending an accredited flight school, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what federal student loans and other federal financial aid are available to you.

The federal student loans you might be able to get for flight school include:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: These loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. The government covers the interest on subsidized loans while you’re in school.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial need. Unlike with subsidized loans, you’re responsible for all of the interest that accrues on unsubsidized loans.
  • Parent PLUS Loans: Parents who want to pay for their child’s flight school education might qualify for this type of loan. PLUS Loans typically have higher interest rates than other federal student loans. They also require a credit check.

Check Out: Federal vs. Private Student Loans: 5 Differences

3. Finance through the flight school

Many flight schools recognize how difficult it can be for students to get the financing they need to afford their training. This is why a number of flight schools provide financing options to students. For example:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Flight School has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer the lender’s lowest-rate undergraduate student loan product to ATP students. ATP also works with other lenders to provide loan options — such as Meritize, which offers merit-based lending.
  • AeroGuard Flight Training Center allows students to finance the cost of their program through ZuntaFi. Students also have the option to combine their flight training with a degree program so they can be eligible for federal financial aid, grants, and other loans.

Learn More: Low-Interest Student Loans

4. Fill the gaps with private student loans

After you’ve exhausted scholarship, grant, and federal student loan options as well as explored financing through your school, private student loans can help fill any financial gaps left over.

Before you take out a private student loan, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you.

If you decide to get a student loan to pay for flight school, it’s important to consider how much that loan will cost you in the future. This way, you can be prepared for any added expenses. You can find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.

Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay

Total Payment
$

Total Interest
$

Monthly Payment
$

With a
$
loan, you will pay
$
monthly and a total of
$
in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of
$
over the life of the
loan, assuming you’re making full payments while in school.


Need a student loan?
Compare rates without affecting your credit score. 100% free!

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Checking rates won’t affect your credit score.

Check Out: How to Apply for Federal and Private Student Loans

Flight school loans: Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to severally commonly asked questions about paying for flight school:

Which airlines pay for flight school?

Several airlines offer tuition reimbursement or sponsorship for flight training. Some of these include:

  • CommutAir
  • Envoy Air
  • GoJet Airlines
  • Horizon Air
  • Piedmont
  • Republic Airways
  • Silver Airways
  • SkyWest Airlines

Learn More: When You Should Apply for a Student Loan

How much money do pilots make?

The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $160,970 as of May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keep in mind that median wage means that half of all pilots make more than this amount while the other half makes less. The highest 10% of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers earned over $208,000, and the lowest 10% earned less than $80,920.

Check Out: How Long Does It Take to Get a Student Loan?

What credit score do you need to get a student loan?

The credit score needed to get a student loan depends on the type of student loan you get.

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: These loans don’t require a credit check.
  • Parent PLUS Loans: To be eligible for a PLUS Loan, you can’t have an adverse credit history. This doesn’t refer to a specific credit score — instead, you can’t have negative information like foreclosure or bankruptcy listed in your credit report for the last five years. If you have an adverse credit history, you might qualify with an endorser (similar to a cosigner).
  • Private student loans: You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a private student loan. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher.

Tip: If you can’t get approved for a private student loan, consider applying with a cosigner. Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.

Learn More: Student Loan Requirements: How to Qualify for a Student Loan

Can student loans cover living expenses?

Yes, both federal student loans and private student loans can help cover living expenses. For example, you could use student loans to pay for rent, utilities, or groceries.

Just be careful to borrow only what you truly need. This way, you can keep your future repayment costs as low as possible.

Check Out: What to Do If You’re Denied a Student Loan With a Cosigner

How do I apply for private student loans?

If you want to apply for private student loans, follow these three steps:

  1. Research and compare lenders. Be sure to compare as many lenders as you can to find a loan that suits your needs. Consider not only interest rates but also repayment terms and any fees charged by the lender.
  2. Pick your loan option. After comparing lenders, choose the loan option that works best for you.
  3. Complete the application. Once you’ve picked a lender, you’ll need to fill out a full application and submit any required documentation, such as pay stubs or tax returns. If you’re approved, the lender will send the information to be certified by your school, after which you’ll receive any leftover money as a refund.


Keep Reading: How Do Federal and Private Student Loans Work?

About the author

Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a Credible authority on personal finance. Her work has been featured by Forbes, Kiplinger’s, Huffington Post, MSN Money, and The Washington Post online.

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