To start, I’ve wanted to be an airline pilot ever since part way through my first year of college when I happened to sit next to a 737 pilot on my flight back from Christmas break. I had told him I was interested in that career path and my conversation with him inspired me. The first thing I did when I got off the plane was apply to several flight schools. I got accepted to Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, but wasn’t able to get the financing I needed to attend. I ended up at a much cheaper school with a fledgling aviation program instead. I spent a year and a half there and only managed to rack up 23 flight hours due to issues with the program, so eventually I decided I was wasting my time and transferred to a better university in my state and finished a bachelors in psychology.
By the time I graduated in December 2018 I realized that I left my dream behind and started looking for ways to become an airline pilot again. Since I already have a considerable amount of student loan debt from obtaining my degree, the only option I was able to come up with is joining the military. So I applied to the Navy for a pilot slot. They rejected me because my depth perception didn’t measure up (which I wasn’t even aware was a requirement), but later my recruiter told me I could reapply as an NFO and use those flight hours towards a civilian career later. I just believed him until I got selected by the board, when I really started doing my research. From what I’ve been able to gather, any flight hours obtained as an NFO are virtually useless in the civilian sector, so it doesn’t seem to be a stepping stone in the right direction at all.
So now here I am, 24 years old, about to go to Navy OCS simply because I can’t see any other option, especially since a part time job isn’t even enough to keep up with my monthly student loan payments. I tried applying for the Sallie Mae student loan to see if it was possible to just go to ATP’s Airline Career Pilot Program but I got rejected, and I have nobody willing to cosign with me.
Essentially my question is, are there any options to get commercial pilot training that you guys know off that perhaps I haven’t considered? Or is spending 8-10 years as an NFO just to pay my student loan debt and try and get my civilian licenses in my free time really my only option?