Real Answers from Real Pilots

Financing without Cosigner

Hello everyone!

I am sure there have been posts regarding how to obtain financing for flight school, especially relating to financing with ATP, but I need help with obtaining financing without a cosigner. I recently graduated with my Bachelor’s and am now working full time. When I first learned about ATP’s professional pilot program, I immediately applied for a loan through both Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. Unfortunately, I was denied by both and was asked to apply again with a cosigner.

Obtaining a loan with a cosigner is not an option for me as I have no one to cosign for me. My parents have already informed me that they will not cosign, and I do not have any other immediate family members who would be willing to cosign or whom I feel comfortable asking.

Does anyone have any recommendations, or a miracle solution? I am positive I am not alone. I am wondering if I just need to go to my bank and ask for a personal loan with the highest interest rate…


Have you spoken with Kirk in financing? He is the expert on this type of stuff.


Yes I have, and I told him my situation. His only advice is for me to have a cosigner.


Unfortunately the cost of training is the biggest obstacle many aspiring pilots face. The problem is these loans are unsecured and unlike gov’t student loans the banks can’t turn you upside down and shake you to get their money. That creates a situation where the bank wants to either be VERY secure with a co-signer (ie, another human on the hook) OR they want to make ALOT of money (ie, high interest rate) to make it worth the risk. It may come down to you delaying you’re training for a while until you can self finance or at least get the loan amount down to a figure the bank is more comfy with.

I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear but other than hitting PowerBall I don’t know any “miracle solutions”.


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Hi Marcus,

I’ve been researching various ways to become a pilot and apart from the Part 141 schools, there are Part 61 schools where you can complete your training modularly while working. The training will take longer, but I’d suggest taking a look at the modular programs if a student loan isn’t an option.

Hi Laura,

Thanks so much for your reply. I was actually looking into a local flight school near me - where I completed my disco flight - in which I could complete my ratings while working. Like you said, this takes longer and the reason I did not want to pursue something part time. Could you post links to the schools that you have been looking at? The more schools and programs I can learn about, the better.

For those of you who have looked, what interest rates have these loans with co-signers been going at with Sallie May and Wells Fargo?

I’ll be in a similar situation soon and currently trying to have things in order to try and get a loan approval. Have you tried looking into Discover? All preference to ATP aside, I followed a link from the AA cadet academy to Discover private student loans. I’m not sure if you would have to go to one of the AA locations to use it, but in the interest of long term, it may be a viable option. Terms and rates seem at or better than Sallie Mae or Wells Fargo. If I’m allowed to post the link to Discover, follow here…

Otherwise just google for it.


I followed the link but saw nothing about them financing flight training? Did I miss something?


I am not sure Discover would even lend loans for programs like ATP. Below I explain my experience when I have contacted other banks.

I have found that through local banks, it is still challenging to get a loan in even a small amount to pay for training in chunks, rating by rating. I have learned that banks will not provide “private” loans to prospective flight school students because according to “Federal Regulation Z,” banks are prohibited from loaning private loans if they will be used for educational purposes. Instead, you have to go through the bank’s educational loan programs…but…in order to qualify for those loans, you usually must be attending a government recognized 4-year college/university or graduate program - in other words, a “Title IV” school, which accepts and processes US Federal Financial Aid.

In the case of most rapid flight programs/schools like ATP, they do not accept federal funding, nor are considered a college institution. Thus, banks legally cannot loan to such programs. ATP does have an agreement with Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo, but that’s a different story.

Hello, I can totally relate to your situation. I’m considering aviation as a second career, I work in financial accounting. My parents and immediate family will not co-sign. Determined, I asked others to co-sign. I was surprised when a second cousin agreed to do it, then my boyfriend said he would personally finance it, now I have options but it was hard to ask others. Prior to this I looked at the university route, which as you’ve mentioned has different financial options including federal funding. There are several universities that partner with part 141 schools and you can qualify for the reduced ATP if you major in an aviation related field. Not sure if the financial aid they offer require co-signers but It’d be worth looking into. Good luck and do not give up.

I would point out that Sallie Mae has recently started issuing loans without a co-signer, so it is worth looking into them as well.

I understand going the university route if need be, just know that it will be far more expensive and take longer to get to the airlines.


Are you able to share how you heard that Sallie Mae could be issuing loans without a cosigner? I tried to apply myself yesterday for a second time and was again denied. Not to my surprise they told me to apply with a cosigner.

I am just fascinated that ATP has relations with both Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae. I would think both lenders would see that ATP students are more than capable of paying their monthly payments upon completion of the program once they become CFIs and are receiving tuition reimbursement from a regional.


These are unsecured loans that have the potential to go into default, especially if a student were to not complete training. While Discover does offer loans without co-signers, they have very strict conditions set on that.

Yes, I didn’t see anything referencing flight school either, on the Discover page. However, the AA cadet academy site talks about it pretty thoroughly and has the link to Discover in it’s content. Here’s the link to the info…

I’m not sure how both parties are classifying the loan, but i think when trying to attain that goal, any source of funding deserves merit and exploration.


I personally will have to look into AA Cadet Academy. I just followed your link and I do see it says “No cosigner required.”

It appears that the American Airline program has an agreement with Discover to make this possible. To my knowledge, Discover does not have an agreement with ATP and thus will not lend to individuals pursuing ATP, unfortunately.

Talk to Kirk in ATP financing. I applied with no co-signer. I have excellent credit and had solid income. I was denied for the full amount. I applied for two loans for 50% of the amount 30 days apart from each application and was approved. I’ve heard that worked for several people. Other option is to keep looking for a co-signer or save a substantial amount that will reduce your overall loan amount. It just will take longer to get there. How bad do you want it?

Is it necessary to have a very solid income to apply for the loan? My work is not pretty stable and I just started with my new employer last month and is planning to quit a month before my target start date which is April of 2019. I have a willing co signer for the loan, what are the chances of me being approved? Will my income really matter in the approval process? Thank you so much for all your help! I don’t think I will have the conviction to continue my decision if I didn’t read all the helpful advise from the mentors and students.


You will need to speak with someone in the financing department to address these concerns as they are the experts in these things.


While you may or may not get approved without a co-signer, having one will likely give you lower loan rates through SLMA as opposed to applying alone.