Become an Airline Pilot
Join the Zero Time to Airline Program

Become an Airline Pilot with Zero Time to Airline.

How to Pay for Flight School | 7 Popular Options from Students




In this post you’ll learn how to pay for flight school.

To put this article together we looked at the most common ways our own students pay for their flight training.

So let’s dig into how to pay for pilot school.

Ways to Pay for Flight Training

If you’re headed to the airlines you’ll need 1,500 hours of flight time and several ratings and certificates. All of these carry a hefty price tag.

Fortunately, if you don’t have the funds upfront to pay for it there are options available. Here’s a few common ways pilots pay for flight training when they, or a family member, can’t cover the cost.

Airplane on the runway

1. Save Up Money

While this route may mean you need to hold off on training for a while it will mean you finish without any debt. You may be tempted to just pay for your training as you can afford it. However, when people typically do this it means training takes significantly longer because so much time passes in between flights.

The better option is to save up the money you’ll need to pay for the entire rating and then go through an accelerated program. That way you retain more of what you learn from one flight to the next and you’ll spend much less on repetitive training.

If you want to be an airline pilot this can be a significant amount of money to save up. So it may be better to save up to pay for one rating/certificate and then use one of the other options below to cover the rest of your training.

2. Loans and Financing Options

Taking out a loan for your flight training is something to consider very carefully. If you’re pursuing a career in aviation it may be worthwhile to take out a loan in order to get your training done quickly and get to the airlines.

By training full time you’ll be able to get all the training completed in a much shorter period of time and, like mentioned above, your training is typically completed faster.

Your goal should be to get to the airlines in 2 years from the time you start training.

If you’re pursuing flight training as a recreational pilot, it may be better to save up rather than take out a loan to pay for training.

3. Scholarships

If you’re attending a university in conjunction with your flight training there are many scholarships available to you. Just talk with your counselor or finance office to get more info.

4. Federal Grant

A federal grant is free money from the government to help pay for education. The federal Pell Grant can be used to help you pay for flight training if you’re doing it at the same time as a degree program. 

Unfortunately, a Pell Grant can’t be used to pay for flight training on its own.

5. Military Assistance

One route some people choose is to enter the military with the hope of doing their flight training.

This can be a challenging route as you don’t necessarily get to decide if you’ll be a pilot or not. The choice is often made for you.


6. GI Bill

You can also use your GI Bill to help pay for advanced flight training, however, you must have your private pilot license first. The GI Bill can help pay for your training whether you are doing it through a private or public university or vocational training.

7. Work at a Flight School

You don’t necessarily need to be working for them as a pilot in order to receive discounted training so you don’t need to wait until you become a CFI.

You could work the front desk, work as a dispatcher, or any other number of jobs needed around a flight school and still receive the discounted training.

Will Airlines Pay for Flight School?

The short answer is no, airlines will not pay for flight school. However, there are a couple of airlines that do operate their own flight schools and tuition there is generally cheaper than most flight schools.

But it’s important to be aware of a couple of details. First, these schools are highly competitive so you likely may not get in and if you are accepted you could be waiting several months to get started.

Second, these schools require you to sign a contract that you will work for them and no one else. When you finally complete your 1,500 hours of flying you could be waiting months to get a training date if they are backed up or don’t need to hire at that time. And if you break the contract and jump to a different airline you will end up owing the flight school thousands of dollars in compensation.

How to Save Money on Flight Training

First and foremost, do your homework. Identify all of the flight schools in your area and even consider some of the larger flight schools you could travel to for training. Compare the types of planes they fly, their rates, their instructor rates and what their pass rate looks like.

Train Often and Study Daily

Once you start your training, make it frequent and consistent. At least 3 times a week is what I recommend, but the more frequently the better. When you train regularly the material sticks and you’ll progress more quickly. 

I’ve also seen that part 141 training tends to move students through more quickly than training at a part 61 flight school.

In addition, make sure you study on your own time. The more studying you do on your own the less time you’ll need to spend with an instructor who is charging you by the hour.

Treat your training as an actual job and you’ll save money over the course of your training.

Spend Time in the Simulator

The national average for an hour in a full-motion simulator for flight training is around $95. While that may seem expensive, it will still save you money compared to the cost of an airplane rental.

While it isn’t as effective, using a home flight simulator (check out our article on Microsoft flight simulator vs x-plane).

Fly with a Friend to Time Build

One last tip on how to pay for flight school. When training for your commercial rating you’ll need to spend a considerable amount of time flying in order to time build. While you could do this alone, it’s going to be significantly cheaper to split time with someone else. 

Treat your training as an actual job and you’ll save money over the course of your training.

What advice do you have on how to pay for flight school?

Become an Airline Pilot, Join the Zero Time to Airline Program

Land your dream job as an airline pilot in as little as 2 years. Get on the path to this incredible, high earning career today. Click the button below to learn more.

Thrust Flight Piper Archer
Want to become a more confident pilot?

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel where we post FREE content to help student pilots understand the art of aviation.

Be entertained and educated on our TikTok channel.

Or check out some of our most popular articles on how to become an airline pilot and airline pilot salaries.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Engage Your Visitors!

Click here to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis pulvinar dapibus.