ATP Grads: Have you found the payments to be manageable while instructing for ATP?

Hello My name is Brent. I am 29 years old and hold a PPL. I have tried everything to pay for the endeavor of becoming a commercial pilot and it seems the only way I’m going to get this done in a reasonable amount of time and in a structured manner is to take the ATP plunge. I am nervous about a 15 year loan at 600 or more a month. I am wondering if there is anyone out there who was in this position and made the leap? What has been your experience? Are the payments manageable with instructor and first year airline salary? What if I feel like I might not be an airlines kind of person? Is ATP still a good way to go? Any other suggestions?

Thanks so much to whomever reads this and responds.


Welcome to the forums, I hope that you will find this website to be of use as you explore the world of professional aviation.

I went through the program some time ago and I was able to put some money down, so my payment was about $375 per month. I found the payment to be large, but doable. When I graduated from the program instructors did not make as much and starting pay at the regionals was not as much, so I would say that our positions are rather similar. I was able to buckle down and make extra payments. I saved money wherever I could, put it towards my loan and was able to pay off my loan seven years early. So yes, it can absolutely be done.

Something to keep in mind is ATP’s Tuition Assistance Program. You can easily find it on the ATP website, but the gist of it is this: After you graduate ATP you get hired there as an instructor as part of their guaranteed CFI job program. Between 300 to 500 hours of total time you will interview with one or several of the airlines in the Tuition Assistance Program. After you pass the interview and commit to a particular airline you will receive an additional $5 per hour of flight time that is paid by the airline and applied directly to your loan. So, if you fly 80 hours one month your future airline will pay $400 of your tuition payment the following month, thus leaving you with only $200 to pay that month. It doesn’t stop there, once you transition to the airline they continue to make $500 monthly payments to your loan for at least the next year. Once you complete your first year at the airline your pay will go up to a level where you will more easily be able to afford the payments.

In regards to your other question, airline pilots, corporate pilots and cargo pilots all have to have the exact same ratings, so a program like ATP’s will get you the credentials necessary to apply for any of those jobs. Do keep in mind though that the Tuition Assistance Program only applies to students that are headed towards an airline that is in that program. You could of course always partake in the program, fulfill your year long commitment to the airline and then look for a corporate gig if that is what your heart is set on.

I hope all of this helps and makes sense, feel free to ask any and all questions that you can think of.


A post was split to a new topic: Introduction and question

Hi Chris,

Is it possible to make a commitment to a future airline without working as a CFI and still receive the tuition reimbursement?

What I mean is if you complete the program, but do not want to be an instructor, but take a job earning the hours up to 1500 will the future airline still offer tuition reimbursement and a conditional offer for employment? Granted you do well in the interview process.



The Tuition Assistance Program is only available to those who are flight instructors with ATP. The same applies to the conditional offer of employment.


That information is definitely key! I didn’t realize those requirements, thanks for the answer.

Hi Chris,
I’m a 51 year old man looking to make “the leap” the beginning of 2017 by attending 1 of the ATP schools. I’m single, no kids, so I have a little more flexibility than most men my age. I will have my PPL by that time. I do recognize the challenges and limitations with my age and the mandatory retirement age being 65 but am incredibly excited to begin this journey.

Follow up questions to this string: If I’m able to fund the training/education myself

  1. Am I still eligible for ATP’s assistance program?
  2. Can I somehow leverage my paying for the training with a future position(s) with the airlines? Another words, since I don’t need to make an early commitment, does that somehow provide me any leverage with choice or airlines?

This forum is fantastic BTW. Thanks


Welcome to the forums. I am glad that you addressed the age issue right up front, having realistic expectations is what concerns me the most, it sounds like you have them.

To your questions:

  1. Yes, you are still eligible to participate in Tuition Reimbursement, the money will just be paid directly to you instead of to the lender.

  2. If you want to participate in Tuition Reimbursement you will need to make an early choice of airlines. If you decide not to participate in the program you can wait until you are close to 1,500 hours to chose your airline. I don’t see where you would have any more leverage this way, but you would certainly have the flexibility of making a choice towards the end of building your flight time.

When do you plan on starting the program?


Hi Chris
Thank you for the welcome and great answers.

Yes, I do realize because of my age that I will probably spend most of my pilot career at a regional with a slight possibility of getting to a major; and I’m good with that. Any more than reaching those expectations will be a plus.

My target start date is March 6 (Monday) with a plan to have my PPL by the end of January. I’m trying to leave February open for moving and anything not planned.

Again, Thank you


It sounds like you ave it all worked out, let us know if there is anything that we can help you with. Good luck in the program.