Real Answers from Real Pilots

Already have a college degree

I am a recent graduate with a degree from a 4 year university and I know that I want a career as a pilot in the aviation industry. I am just looking for some advice and I hope someone can help me out! Within the next few months, I will have my student loans start to come in and will have to start to repay them. My question is, or some advice I am looking for, is do I get a full time job to start repaying those loans that I will have and once I get that loan down go into ATP or should I see if I can push that loan payment back until start at ATP and start payments when I am done with ATP and an instructor (or anything after that). It might be a silly question but I know that I want a career as a pilot. If there is anyone else out there that went to a college/university and graduated with a Bachelors degree and is/was in the same boat that has any advice, anything is appreciated!
Thank you!


Ultimately any financial decision are yours to make. We obviously don’t know what your particular situation is and what level of debt you’re comfortable with. All that said I’ll give you my take.

Student loans generally take a while to pay down unless you’re making a huge amount of money. Airline pilots have a finite amount of years they can work as mandatory retirement is 65. Now if you recently graduated that means you’re probably under 25 so that gives you a 40yr career which is great. Thing is senior pilots at Major airlines earn $350k plus. Every year you delay is a year you will not be making that money. Just waiting 3yrs would easily cost you over $1mil (not to mention lost seniority and all the benefits that go with it). Not to mention it’s very easy to say I’m going to put things off and then return when things are better but many never do. What I’m saying is if you truly want to be a pilot then sooner is always better.

Again the decision is of course yours.



Welcome to the forums!

I would suggest calling Kirk in ATP Admissions and speaking with him about your finances and what you will need to do to qualify for financing for ATP’s program. Depending on your level of debt, you might need to pay it down first, or you might qualify for full financing right away. If you do qualify for full financing, I would suggest starting training as soon as possible, for the reasons Adam stated. Seniority is everything with the airlines, it is best to be airline eligible as soon as possible.