Real Answers from Real Pilots

How to become a pilot if all you have is passion and cant afford tution

(Reuben) #1

Hi, I have always been really passionate about being a captain and actually flying commercial planes for a living.I am now doing my engineering because going to a flight school cost a lot of money.I thought maybe the passion for being a pilot will die out but it didn’t.I come from a middle class family and i know this is really what i want to do but i dont know how to afford the tution.Is there anyone who faced a similar problem and overcame it ?Your answer could changethe direction of my life.




Unfortunately flying is expensive and there’s really no way around that. The majority of the pilots I know weren’t wealthy and came from middle or even lower class beginnings (myself included). It’s a matter of working hard, keeping your finances in check and usually incurring some debt in the form of student loans. The good news is this career can significantly elevate you financially and its a worthwhile investment in your future. You may not be able to start your training now but if it’s something you really want you’ll find a way.


(Sergey Kireyev) #3

The harder you work for it, the more humble you remain and don’t take it for granted. I love the fact that I can provide my kid the life I never had, but that’s not THE reason to incur massive debt and live on ramen noodles for years to come. The reason is the same one why every pilot I know can talk for hours about flying, will want to look, smell and touch every type of a flying machine from a a Pietenpol to a C-5 and would take anyone flying just to share the joy of being free…

(Brian Jim) #4

Hello, I also have the same status in life (can’t afford tuition in flight schools). I live here in the Philippines and I decided to go with my dad to California in 2019 so that I could apply for the ATP Tuition Reimbursement Program. Any advice for me before going there? Thanks.



Just keep in mind that you need to be a US citizen or permanent US resident to be able to work as a pilot in the United States, even as an instructor.

Beyond that, I would recommend spending some serious time on this forum, reading the articles and asking questions.

You also need to take an introductory flight before committing to choosing aviation as a career. You can do this at any ATP location or most local flight schools.




Also keep in mind that you’d still need to get a loan or find some other funding for the program. Tuition Reimbursement REIMBURSES you for the money you’ve laid out AFTER you’re done training and have already PAID for the program.


(Brian Jim) #7

So I have to live in the US and apply for student loan… I’m starting to think it’s not going to be easy. Any suggestions on where can I apply for a student loan? Thanks in advance!



Student loans are unsecured loans which makes them very difficult to obtain even for people living in the US. You are correct finding one and not being a resident “is not going to be easy”.




Unless you are a US citizen or permanent US resident and have a co-signer that is the same, you will not be able to qualify for financing in the US.


(Brian Jim) #10

I have a relative in San Diego California which I think can help me about the citizenship. If I have already my citizenship papers then I can apply for student loan right?



It takes several years to become a citizen. You have to either BE a US citizen or BE a US permanent legal resident. There is no other way to apply for financing.


(Brian Jim) #12

Thanks for the informations Sir Chris. I guess I’ll just work my way to become a pilot

(Brian Jim) #13

Sir Chris,

What if I join the Air Force here in the Philippines and gain some experience in piloting?



That will likely make you eligible to fly in the Philippines, but not in the US.


(Kings marvelous) #15

The cost of the training has always been an issue on my mind. I have been looking out for sources of funding and i read about the wells fargo loan. I am a wells fargo customer and i wanted to ask how realistic is obtaining this loan and what things would typically give you an edge in being selected. Also, would you advice it? . if not what would you advice… Thanks


As a Wells customer I recommend you speak with Wells as they would know much better than any of us would. Please understand we’re pilots here and not financial experts. What I can tell you is that since education loans are unsecured they’re difficult to obtain. What gives a person an “edge” is having a good credit history, steady employment, money or assets and home ownership. Short of that you’ll need a strong co-signer. I also know that they’re very difficult to get if you’re not a citizen or permanent resident of the US if it’s here you want to train as there’s nothing stopping a person from packing up and leaving the country.


(Stephen Townes) #17

Hi, I am fairly new to this community. I have been reading a lot of the post and have been able to obtain tons of good information. To any pilot mentor how has been paying back your student loans been? I know different airlines have different reimbursement packages, but with the airlines help and with your yearly salary how is it paying back the loans, along with other life expenses?

(Tory) #18


At first it is very hard to make progress. As a CFI, even with tuition reimbursement, the interest rates are so high that the checks from the sponsoring airline won’t cover the interest. At least the reimbursement prevents the loan from growing.

Take a look at the responses to a post from earlier today: Student loans


(Spes Acharya) #20

Hi my name is spes. I live in dallas and i am a legal resident.i want to pursue my carrer as an pilot but i cant afford the tution.i am from a middle class and need to send some money back home to my parents too…i am not making an excuse but is there any other reimbursment programs which helps me to get certified. I really need a mentor. Like is there any option that i get reimbursed for my study from the company and work for the same company in a contract.

(Tory) #21


At this time the only financial assistance available at ATP is taking out a loan and/or the Tuition Reimbursement Program. Also, students receiving benefits through the GI Bill can also use their benefits to pay for written exam costs and examiner fees. The GI Bill can also be used towards a college degree, which is required by most major airlines.

Most regional airlines are also offering signing bonuses which can help pay off some of the tuition costs. Signing bonuses are as higher as $25,000.

The bottom line is that all pilots have to invest in their flight training by paying out of pocket and/or taking out a loan. Only after proving that you are worth of a company’s investment, by obtaining the appropriate ratings and accumulating the required flight time, does financial relief such as Reimbursement Programs and signing bonuses begin being offered.