Financing, Realistic Expectations, and Backup Plans

Hey y’all.
I’m currently employed in Law Enforcement in Southern California. I’m making preparations to leave my current job and start with ATP to eventually become a pilot at an airline. I’ve been studying, listening to testimonials, and researching nonstop. It seems ATP is the place for me. I just had a few questions I’d like to ask to y’all.

Financing - Within the next week I’m going to apply to get a loan for ATP as I can’t afford It out of pocket. When I do this, I know I won’t have an income, so in order to pay for my minimal bills and utilities, I know I will probably have to take out a larger loan than just for the tuition. Since I’m starting from zero, it looks like my loan, for living expenses and tuition, will end up being around 125k. Is this a bad idea? I could wait and save up more money, but it will set me back more. I’d have to save for at least 6-8 months to secure my bills and utilities for a year with no other unforseen issues. But that sets me back quite a long time, by that time I could be done with ATP. What is everyone’s opinion on this?

Realistic Expectations - I am a hard worker, have been through high stress academies and environments, and did well in school. I’m pretty confident I can make it through the program. On the off chance it doesn’t take though, and I start to struggle, I need to know: Does ATP take the lump sum of the loan at the beginning and then I’m on the hook for it all if I drop out, or do I only pay for what I used? I’m talking worst case scenario so I can plan and motivate myself. Also, what is it like to fall behind in ATP? Are you SOL? Do they kick you out or take more money from you? I plan on attempting to finish all my written exams before I start, but again, I’m trying to prepare for the worst case scenario and work towards the best.

Thanks in advance everyone, I’m super excited for these next few weeks and hoping everything goes smoothly. I hope to be enrolled in Riverside ATP within the next month or two!


Welcome to the forum. Let’s get to your questions.

Waiting is a call that is really up to you. What I can tell you is that the airlines work strictly off seniority and every day matters. Major airline captains can easily make $300k or more per year, so a delay of even a few months could have a major impact, plus you never know where the industry is going. A week’s difference in seniority could be the difference between being a co-pilot or a captain, or being furloughed or not. I personally would take out the extra loan money and get moving on the training.

ATP has a refund policy, here it is:

Refund Policy

It’s simple and ethical: you or ATP reserves the right to terminate your training at any time, making you (or a designated lending source) eligible for a pro-rated refund which will be issued within 15 days following program termination.

ATP’s refund policy quickly accommodates students who elect to discontinue the program for any reason. It is important to receive your refund in an expeditious manner so you can use the funds to continue your flight training at another school, repay a loan, or cover emergency needs.

ATP is the only flight school or academy that offers this level of protection.

I am not sure exactly how the amount of refund is calculated, that would be a question for the ATP admissions team.

If you do fall behind, ATP will work with you to secure additional flight time, which will be at a cost to you. They by no means just kick a student out that has fallen behind, the desire is always to get the student throughs and to have them be as successful as possible.

Let us know what other questions you have.

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Thats fantastic! I think my questions that could be answered on here have been, thank you very much!



Any time, let us know if you have any other questions.



Welcome to the forum!

In regards to the financing, I’d recommend reaching out to Kirk so that he can advise on the best option for you. His direct line is 904-595-7946.

You are only responsible for the amount of training that you use, not the entire loan amount. As Chris mentioned, you’ll receive a refund calculation within 15 days. I think finishing the written exams before you start is a wonderful idea - it will be one less thing to complete while training.


Addison, curious how the “extra” money works in the loan. Say approved for 100k loan from Sallie Mae and checked off the “extra” boxes for living expenses and equipment. Sallie pays ATP directly but how does the money for things like the ipad work? Does Sallie or ATP write a check to me each month? Do I need to make a request, “I want to buy groceries and and Ipad, please send me a check for $___?”


The additional funds that you include (examiner + knowledge test fees, training materials, and housing/living expenses) will be dispersed on the BankMobile Vibe Debit Card that we send out in your training bundle. This card functions as a standard debit card. If you’d rather have the funds distributed into your checking account (as a direct deposit), that is an option as well.

Examiner and knowledge test fees will be available to you on that card (or in your checking account) 5-7 days before a checkride. DPE’s require the fees to be in cash, so that should allow time for you to visit an ATM and take those funds out.

Housing and Living expenses (up to $2,000/mo) are distributed to you monthly for you to pay your bills.

Training material funds are typically available 4-5 days after you start training. We recommend that you purchase these materials upfront and use the loan as reimbursement to yourself.


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Super helpful thank you!

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I’ve been doing this a while. I was an ATP instructor and an instructor at both my airlines. In my experience, success is most about attitude and work ethic. If you’re willing to put in the effort you can and will power through this. It’s really that simple.



Great question and answer! I just applied (for pre-approval and got approved, so I can get a free admission flight, I’ll likely be adjusting the loan amount as plans come more into focus) for a loan of about $125k. Similar boat. Bills won’t pay themselves during training or even CFI!

My wife suggested she and our son travel back to China and spend at least a year living back with her mom. Talk about two birds, one stone. She gets to visit home after four or five long years and the man baby gets to meet his Chinese side of the family, plus that makes step two slightly easier.

Hopefully, we can rent out our house for a few years. I’ll move back in with my parents or a buddy and focus on training and not be barely paying the bills and hoping we don’t get a stupid hospital bill (wife and son in China will save on those costs as well!)

If we can do that, I think the loan can be cut down to much closer to the cost of training itself.


Sounds like you and your wife made it work. Congrats on the loan approval.

Have you scheduled your Admissions Flight yet with Admissions? Do you have a location in mind that you would be attending?


Well that’s our plan. I figure two three years until back to making a solid income for our current expenses.

Yeah, just scheduled my flight for May 7 in Waukesha (Milwaukee location).


Sounds great, please let us know how things go!