Financing Approved!

My financing came back approved for the full amount plus living expenses. Interest rate of 9% fixed. I know there are lots of questions about how the Sallie Mae loan works so I’ll just tell my experience and you can back into the numbers to get an idea of how it might pan-out for you.

I completed the app exactly as ATP said. I had to call Sallie Mae the next day for a follow up interview. They asked me how I was going to pay bills during the program, how I was planning on getting a job, backup plans if I couldn’t complete the program, how I use my credit cards, how I pay my utilities. I think they were just looking to see I had put some thought into the finances of the program and not making a knee jerk decision.

I’ve seen some say you need excellent credit to get full funding. I have a 720 fico score so good, but not exceptional, and I got the full funding without a co-signer. I also have four previous SM loans that I paid back in good standing. So I think there is weight placed on paying back previous loans and not specifically on just your credit score. Also, the interview was nice because it made me feel like the ultimate decision to approve the loan was left to an actual human being who was trying to understand my situation, rather than just a computer algorithm.

Hope this helps others who might be wondering how it’ll work out for them.


My experience with Sallie Mae was quite similar, however Meritize came in with a better rate. From what I can tell, Meritize is new with ATP and has some additional restrictions (such as state, etc). Sallie Mae required me to have a co-signer while Meritize did not and still came in with a higher rate, to which I still don’t understand :joy: Meritize was pretty cool in that it offered me a rate based off my personal accomplishments rather than just relying on a credit score (last I checked mine was 740).

Glad you got the financing and welcome to the loan club! :laughing:



Can you provide a link for Meritize? Also what state are you taking your training in? I tried searching on my own but wasn’t able to find ATP as a program, but it’s possible I’m not on the right site.

Here’s the link:

I do my training in Nevada, but my loan originates in Oregon.

Awesome, thank you!

So I ended up going with Meritize. Just signed the loan docs last night. My reasoning:

  • 2% lower interest rate than Sallie Mae
  • 20 year term option available which I went with
  • $150 monthly payment while in the ATP hour building period.
  • Lowest monthly payments of any option

Basically, my thought is to keep payments as low as possible in the short term to avoid any financial issues that could lead to poor performance in the ATP program. Then, once I start holding a line and the paychecks roll in, I’ll attack the loan and pay it off early before the effect of the horrible interest accumulates.

The $150 monthly payment while building hours is extremely helpful as I don’t anticipate making enough to pay a $1200 student loan plus living expenses while a CFI. As I understand, Sallie will let you defer for 6 months after the 7 month ACPP is finished, but we all know it takes about 18 months to build hours, not six. You can apply for forebearance, to get more time, but that is more paperwork and a hit to your credit. So Mertize’s built-in 18 months of cheap $150 month payments is great while building hours.


Congrats Michael!

I know you were concerned about the payments. That is definitely very palatable.


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Sounds like a great option!


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Hey Michael,

Just curious what Meritize looked at? What things do you feel were highest on their “priority list” when it came to determining your creditworthiness?
I know they are more of a reputation based lender in comparison to SM.



Sounds like you’ve got a great plan. Don’t forget about the tuition reimbursement programs. If you decide to stay and instruct with ATP, there are numerous programs available to grads. You’d be getting considerable loan payments made directly from your regional to your loan.

For example, I chose Skywest back as a 450 hr CFI. At the time, I got $17/hr directly from Skywest to my loan. That was roughly $1700 a month from the company to my loan account. I didn’t have to add a penny.




This sounds like a pretty good setup to me. Just be sure to jump on those payments as soon as your income allows.


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Did your credit take much of a hit when applying to Sallie Mae and then Meritize? Did they ask questions about sallie Mae when applying to them? I got approved today through sallie Mae for 110k but haven’t accepted it yet. My dad being my Co signer, and my monthly payment seems a bit high, and like you said, they only will give you 13 months total deferral. They also told my dad 85% of students co signers end up having to pay the loan because low time pilots don’t make enough money, but I don’t think they have much insight on the amount of students or rates that different schools pay, etc… feels like there misleading information some, but I could be wrong. In all, my dad isn’t to thrilled! We also have quite a bit of equity on our home, and I feel like we could use it and it be a big help, but I just wander if I should try to go through meritize before doing so.

Questions for the mentors, are there great things I can throw at my dad for me to ease his mind? As well as what is the average hour mark for being able to interview with a regional/ get Tuition reimbursement? Also, I know I’ve read numerous different #s and hours per month a CFI will get, but for the Jacksonville location, do y’all have any insight on how many hours the instructors there are getting? Hopefully someone will chime in!
I really have to get my dad on board with the sign on bonuses and tuition reimbursement! That’s a big help!

He’s also doesn’t believe I will be able to get it in my name after making 12 consecutive payments, but I believe other wise! I feel like, getting the certificate, becoming a CFI, and then being hired at an airline is a big accomplishment. And that the bank you go through will see that, I could be wrong though!

Any thoughts will definitely help, I think he will be fine, just have to ease his mind, and mine some as well!

@bcsolom , I’m not an underwriter so not sure what they look at to ultimately approve their loans, but I can certainly tell you my thoughts…

Meritize looks at past academic and military achievement, so if you don’t have either of those, I’m not sure you’d see much of a difference between them and Sallie Mae. I have a bachelors degree from Northern Arizona University. I paid-off the SM loans for it in good standing about seven years ago. So I’m sure that bumped-up my credibility in their underwriting to see four SM loans paid-off. I also had a 3.95 gpa while at NAU which helps because Meritize puts weight on your academic performance. I suppose there would be qualification issues if one was a poor performing student, had lots of outstanding student loans, or was ever in forbearance or default on a student loan. Not that you wouldn’t qualify, but that your interest rate would be higher and less competitive to SM.

I think for the most part these lenders want to see that you manage debt and don’t over-leverage yourself in life. I currently have a mortgage payment and a car payment. That’s it. I’ve never been late on any loan payments. I suppose if you finance everything from a house to a Bose A20 headset, they might wonder if you have the self-control needed to manage a huge loan like this. If you have no credit past, that’s tricky too because you’re sort of a wild card in their eyes. I think my good grades and paid-off SM loans were the ticket for me to get a pretty good loan with Meritize.

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Also, I’ve done some research on the schedule of an instructor and I thought I saw one post a schedule a while back, but can’t find it.
Can someone send me in the right direction of a instructors schedule so I can see a rough idea of how many hours between the ground/flying/sim. I know the average flight hour is about 85hrs if I’m not mistaken!
Thank you all.


While ATP instructors have some flexibility in their schedules, due to student schedules, weather and aircraft availability you’re really expected to be available full-time and all the time.


That’s exactly how I want to be.
Mainly concerned with how many hours for each subject?
Is 50+hrs paid per week a good approximation?
85 hours a month coming from flying and the rest ground school and sims? So around 120hrs per month on ground/sim? I know it varies by location. I’ll be at the Jacksonville location.


I would say that’s a pretty high estimate. On average I would say an ATP instructor can expect to fly around 15-20 hours per week. Dependent on the type of students you have, you will maybe have 5-10 hours of sim time a week. If you have mostly private students, the sim time will be even lower (higher with instrument students). You aren’t directly paid for grounds, you get paid for grounds based on flight time, unless you participate in teaching elevate classes in the evening. I would say 70-90 hours monthly total (flight + sim) is probably around average at the moment (60-80 flight time and 20-30 sim time). All of these numbers are completely dependent on student load, aircraft availability, weather, location and type of instructing position. There are instructors who exceed these numbers, but there are also instructors who fall short of these numbers. It all depends on your situation.

Hope this helps,


Gives a good idea. 120 is definitely high.
I just read a post from pre covid and it seemed they worked 50+ a week at that time. It varies so much, it’s hard to tell. Thank you for the insight.

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@Kholden2 Meritize doesn’t do a hard hit to your credit until you accept the loan offer. They soft pull your credit when you complete the online app, but you have until you accept their offer for the hard hit. In my case, my interest rate actually went down 1.3% after the hard hit.

Meritize didn’t mention my application with Sallie Mae. I don’t think they would have cared either. You can have several hard hits related to student loans all within 30 days, I believe, without it looking like multiple inquiries. The lenders know you’re shopping interest rates, so it all looks the same to them.

If you are a past college student with a good gpa or veteran with an exemplary past, I’d give Meritize a shot and see how it pans-out for you and your dad. Like I said, the $150 month while building time might be a selling point for him.

Definitely is a good selling point. Thank you for the insight.