Flight Training Costs

Hello community!

I am on the cusp of embarking on my journey to becoming an airline pilot. Me and my family have been hitting many roadblocks trying to figure out how we are gonna pay for tuition to a 4-year college, and flight training at the same time. My mother was simply appualed when she found out that flight training costs are seperate from tuition costs. We need some clarity about all the numbers and to figure out how we can practically do this in a short amount of time. Do you all have any advice? How did you pay for your flight training? Will I be qualified for loans while I am only 18, 19, 20 years old?

(Military isn’t an option for me, so I’m gonna need advice for the civilian route.

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Hey MJL,

If you’re going to a four-year college/university, they (more likely than not) will have cost breakdown estimates for flight training as well as tuition/housing rates. This information can be found pretty easily online or by contacting a financial/aviation department advisor. Do you know which colleges/universities you’re interested in?

For reference, I’m a high school senior currently going through the same hurdles. Looking for scholarships that apply is difficult! However, websites like Fastweb.com are really helpful for finding scholarships that work for you. You can also find scholarships from the college/university you’re attending, and filing financial aid is a big part of that process as well.

Yea I was set on going to Arizona State, but my mom is trying to figure out the best option financially. We live in Georgia so going to Arizona is a big jump. Middle Georgia is the only college in GA with flight training but she really doesnt want me to go there, but we are going to visit the facility at some point. Its the cheapest tuition option. Also Florida Tech is very high on our list as well as Kent State and UND.

We looked at the cost breakdowns and she still doesnt really understand it.

All of the cost breakdowns provided by colleges/universities are estimates. For example, at UND, they provide estimates for the specific program. Here I’m looking at their Commercial Aviation major:

Then, you can look at the individual costs. UND estimates that if you don’t hold your PPL, it’ll cost $13,968 to get it with them.

As you mentioned, these rates are in addition to tuition rates, which can be also be found on college/university sites.

try also searching for flight schools. I’m 16 years old and i’m about to become a senior and i’ve been also finding many flight schools to start my journey to become an airline pilot. In my opinion, best option would be a flight school. It would be cheaper than going to university since going to university can cost up to $300K while in flight schools, it can cost up to $70K. In a few weeks, i’ll be attending flight school since i’m in vacations (just finished 11th grade). Second, many US airlines don’t require degree’s anymore such as Delta, Southwest, American, and United. Hopefully u can find an ideal school for you and can achieve your goals!

We honestly are having more trouble figuring out how we are gonna pay for all of this. We have many questions about loans and such. We just want to figure out all the hacks and how to make things cheaper.

All of the pilot mentors Ive talked to still believe it would be best if I got a degree but i can definitely look into the possibility of just doing flight school.

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That’s the pickle my family is in too. The best thing I can recommend is to take time filing financial aid and applying to all of the scholarships that apply to you. Financial aid offices at colleges/universities can also be helpful with providing information regarding what you’re curious about.


When that doesn’t work try crying, its what I do every time I see a bill from aviation 🤣


The airlines need pilots, plain and simple. A degree is secondary to ATP. Your most cost efficient route would be to get a CPL as soon as possible and become somewhat self sustaining, eventually moving up the chain of endorsements and certs.

I know Auburn and Delta have a program of sorts for pilots. I am only a sophomore and beginning to look into this stuff but this is very informative. There’s also Embry Riddle of course.

So you think doing the ATP program is best?

Negative. Get a commercial license, then get a job so you can pay for the loans you will inevitably take out. After that, the rest of the 1,500 hours for ATP will pay for themselves.

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it really depends on who you are flying with. can cost around $340 to $400 for 1 hour.

I want to point out a distinction here, as ATP has two overlapping meanings:

  • ATP is short for Airline Transport Pilot, the license you need to fly for a scheduled airline (Part 121)
  • ATP is also short for ATP Flight School, a school that’s known as a pilot mill and marketed toward people who want to head to the airlines.
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I’d highly recommend checking out other airline pilot-specific forums for this question. There are 5-10 people on this forum who are really qualified to answer this question, not there are other forums out there with thousands of airline pilots who can give you insight.

Here’s the summary I gave last time this was asked:



I feel you can manage your costs better through a Part 61 program with an individual instructor or small flight school, rather than a university’s Part 141 program. I could be grossly wrong though - I did my CPL with a Part 61 outfit in SoCal in 2020, so I don’t know if costs have changed significantly since then.

As for the degree…choose a program that gives you a lot of free time! You’ll need it for all the flying :)

Most major airlines like to see a bachelor’s degree, it’ll definitely help you get a job if you go down that path

I guess I can kind of tell my personal experience:

I’m looking to attend a university flight program in-state, and honestly it’s not setting me that far back financially. Sure, there are some really well known schools with flight programs, but at the end of day you are really only paying for that school’s name on your degree.

If finances are a struggle (as they are for nearly everyone), I would suggest looking for schools close by, preferably in-state in you can find them. The university program doesn’t have to be that big (maybe its only 10-20 planes), but it’ll honestly get you to the same place big-name schools like Embry-riddle will, the airlines.

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