Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP or public college?

Hi all,

Here’s a tl;dr of my situation: mid 20’s who found his passion for flying and aviation a couple of years ago. Currently in college attaining enough credits to transfer to a college since I didn’t take my SAT or ACT. Program I’m going for gets ~300 applicants for 30 slots—with my gpa and courses I’ve taken: I’m considered to be a competitive applicant. They’ve quoted me 3 years (~$75k in total; ~$4k per semester with at least 12 credits + $9k per semester for flight training/courses) to complete my training with a double B.S. (aviation administration degree and aeronautical science degree; ratings attained are as followed: private, instrument, commercial, and an option between finishing with Multi engine or CFI—I’ve been told by multiple people that have gone thru the organ to choose multi and outsource my CFI training). Training would be done at a local airport ~10 minutes from my house. Whereas, with ATP I would have to commute ~45 mins - 1 hr, which I don’t really see as a deal breaker—but still a factor to consider. Financially, going with the public colleges seems to make more sense to me as I can get grants, a good amount of scholarship, and some help from family. Time wise, if I go through the the college I will only need to complete a minimum of 1,000 hours to be R-ATP certified, compared to 1,500 to be ATP certified. Also, I know I’ve got a CFI job lined up for me after completing training at the college as I’ve been working for flight school for a couple of years (I know multiple people who’ve gotten a CFI job after working line service/front desk operations at the same company)— Additionally, I’m not sure if the fast track schedule would work for me, as I would probably have to work while training with ATP—which is why I’ve come here. I see two great options to achieve my dream of being a professional pilot, but I feel stuck and very stressed between which option to choose.

Thank you for reading.


Obviously the college route sounds good. Financially as you say you can get grants etc and you’ll end up with a degree. I am curious about the flight training as there’s no way you could get your PPL, IR, and CPL for $9k (that’s $36hr for 250hrs which wouldn’t even pay for the instructor. Even if it’s per year that’s ridiculously cheap) but we’ll assume it’s right. My question is what kind of reputation and success rate does this college have. A good deal isn’t such a good deal if you don’t achieve your goals.

On the other side there’s ATP who has literally placed thousands of students at the airlines and has been for over 35yrs. Either way this is a huge investment and more important the wrong decision could lead to you not fulfilling your goal. I’d do my research.


My mistake, I should’ve made it clear that it’s an EXTRA $9k per semester. Still a better deal financially.

Also, I’ve known multiple people who’ve gone through the program and are on their way to becoming a FO. I’ve heard the good and the bad, but everything comes with the good and the bad. I know I will reach my goal either way, I don’t want I give up.

Welcome to the forum! Glad to see ya here. You didn’t mention which university this is but you mention getting the R-ATP at 1000 hrs. You’d only be eligible for that if your flight training was with a qualified 141 training program. You definitely want to check on that.
I know it seems logical to do an aviation degree but it is not a requirement and we actually don’t recommend it because it can be a waste of a usable degree. In case of future aviation furloughs, that aviation degree won’t help you get a job to pay the bills until you get called back. However a business, finance, accounting, etc degree could. As for the finances, if quoted accurately $54k will only get you 4 certificates but you still need more… private, instrument and commercial is good. The multi you need for your ATP certificate and the CFI/CFII you need to time build. The CFI will start you instructing but the airlines want to see IFR time and with only a CFI you’d be limited to VFR instruction only. Unless you plan on flying alone on your own time and dime for IFR time, you’ll need your CFII as well. So however you want to divide it up, you’re still going to need two additional ratings so include that in your projection of costs. With all this being said, this college program seems good on the outside but inefficient when you really break it down. Just my honest opinion…

On their way isn’t there. I’ll ask again, have they had any successful students? I’m not trying to be belligerent but this is your future. When it was mine I wanted to find the best proven route. Money, while important, was secondary.


I don’t feel you’re being belligerent at all because you’re right—this is my future, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. By “on their way,” I meant one is starting his FO training in a week, and another in a couple of months. Im sorry, I should’ve been more clear about that. Additionally, one of my sisters good friends who went through the program has been flying for the air force. Furthermore, one of my coworkers brothers has been a FO for ~2 years. They have successful students, as does ATP. Also, I realize money is secondary—both are a huge investment for me nonetheless.