Unfortunately, most pilot schools do not fall under the umbrella of accredited colleges liable for federal aid, which is what a FAFSA loan is.
FAFSA lists their eligible areas of study as education, childcare, computers, cosmetology, healthcare, and trades, among others...but no flight school.
But don’t give up on a career in the clouds just yet! You may have picked up that we said ‘most pilot schools’ aren’t licensed for FAFSA financial aid. Well, we weren’t just being sloppy.
There are indeed a few exceptions to this rule, but digging up which pilot schools are accredited by the FAFSA program can be tough, so we recommend asking any pilot school you’re interested in attending directly if their students are eligible for financial aid.
If like the National Aviation Academy, your prospective institution does qualify for federal financial aid, we recommend applying for the Pell grant.
As this form of financial aid isn’t actually a loan, you won’t have to pay it back...ever!
The amount you will receive if your application is successful differs from student to student and course to course, but the maximum sum awarded for 2020-2021 is $6345. That should cover a chunk of course fees or at least your living costs.
Alternatively, you could apply for a few different types of loans that you will have to eventually pay back, but hey, when you’re a professional pilot, getting paid to defy gravity, you’ll be in the clear in no time at all.
The standard FAFSA loans include…
- Direct Subsidized Loan - To receive a DSL, you’ll need to prove to the FAFSA board that you are in need of financial aid. This is normally done via an assessment of your family’s circumstances. There is a cap on how much you can borrow as the interest has to be covered by the educational department as you study, all the way through to six months after course completion.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan - The DUL is similar to the DSL except you take full responsibility for paying the interest, the bonus being that you don’t have to prove you are in need of financial aid.
- Direct PLUS Loan - The DPL can be applied for by parents of aviation school students. If they pass all the necessary credit checks, they can borrow the exact sum of money needed to cover course fees, bar any additional federal financial aid you’ve received.
Can You Get Financial Aid for Pilot School?
Even if the pilot school you’ve been dying to get into isn’t technically a FAFSA accredited institution, there’s no need to panic, because you can apply for alternative means of financial aid.
In fact, there are far more financial aid programs for aviation school than it first seems, and considering course fees can set you back upward of $50,000, it’s a good job too!
These financial aid alternatives are known as private loans, which are agreed upon between you and a bank or lender.
Not all lenders offer career development loans, but as the need for them increases, more and more are threading them into their lending portfolios.
Should you be denied a FAFSA loan, your first port of call is to identify lenders that do offer loans for the study of a trade.
Two leading organizations that specialize in this area of lending are Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. Sallie Mae is a giant of the private lending world, specializing in affordable loans for students trying to find a trade career.
The specific Sallie Mae lending option you should read into is known as the Career Training Smart Option Student Loan.
Aviation students are eligible for this loan; however, you will have to pass a credit check first. Bear in mind, the CTSOSL never awards a fixed sum. How much you receive will depend on the specifics of your course.
Wells Fargo offers a wide array of student private loans, but the one you’ll be interested in is called The Wells Fargo Student Loan for Career and Community.
Much like the Sallie Mae loan, you’ll have to pass a credit check before a financial agreement can be reached, and the total sum will reflect the tuition fees of the course in question.
The WFSCC also gives you the choice between fixed and variable interest rates, and the very handy option to defer payment until six months after graduation.
Pilot schools such as the ATP, Aviator College of Aeronautical Science and Technology, and Phoenix East Aviation actively nurture direct ties to lenders in order to help their prospective students get the financial aid they need and deserve.
If none of the above are a viable option, you could also try these alternatives to help pay for your tuition…
- Low-Interest Credit Card
- Applying for a Loan from an Aviation-Specific Lending Organization
- Applying for a Job at Your Pilot School and Hope for a Discounted Course Fee.