Real Answers from Real Pilots

Finding financial help

Hi my name is Travis Fowler, I’m 22 and looking to go to ATP for training. Right now I’m in the process of finding the finances or loans to go to school but I’m struggling with getting approved. Since its a big amount for someone my age I can’t get approved on my own, and I can’t find any co signers that have the proper requirements for Sallie mae or Meritize. I was wondering if airlines could help with schooling or what action I could take from here.

Hi Travis!

Securing the funds for flight training is one of the most difficult obstacles for most people. Airlines do not outright fund the total cost of flight training. The financial burden in doing that would be too great a risk for them.

I do know of at least one way that airlines are trying to make it more affordable for pilots. Since I fly for Horizon, I am most familiar with the Pilot Development Program: Jobs at Alaska Airlines & Horizon Air - Ascend Pilot Development Program

The PDP requires you to enroll in one of the listed schools, ATP being one of them (if that ever becomes a possibility for you).

Now, enrolling in one of these schools (except ATP) would most likely require a minimum of four years to complete (but don’t quote me on that). I imagine that the programs also require that you earn a degree in aviation. That’s also something to consider. Aviation degrees check the “degree box” on your application, but they don’t necessarily do you very many favors if for whatever reason you lose your medical and need a back up plan.

I know that this isn’t a perfect solution, but I just wanted to bring it to your attention. I wanted you to be aware that their are programs out there that do come with some financial assistance.

I went to ATP and enrolled in ATP’s version of financial assistance aka Tuition Reimbursement. I received $5/flight hour until reaching 1500 hours total time. Then I received $500/mo for my first 12mo as a First Officer at Horizon. The agreement also included a 1yr contract.

Now I know that you are having difficulty finding the funds to finance ATP at the moment. But perhaps you could start saving for the next 2-3 years and build up your credit history? At 22, you still have plenty of time in the industry to invest the next few years saving. I would give this some consideration. Although this would delay your flight training, ATP is still the best program to prepare you for airline-level training.

If I come across any other programs, I’ll will share them. I wouldn’t be surprised if airlines start announcing new programs soon with the imminent pilot shortage.


Hey Tory thank you so much for the help! waiting a bit longer isn’t something I want to do, but it might be the better thing to do with the situation I’m in, please do let me know if you find anything more out I’ll be grateful for any information that is shared. I’m going to work on getting ground schooling done with my friend till I can get the funding figured out so I have alittle bit of an edge when I can start.

Thank you again for your help,


Unfortunately money has blocked or at least delayed many airline careers. I’m willing to bet if you could guarantee you’d be successful in your training and maintain a clean record the airlines would cut you a check. Problem is flight training is very expensive and you are an unknown. Will you do well in pilot training? Maybe you will but maybe you’ll bust 3 checkrides. Maybe after passing your last you’ll go party with your friends and get a DUI. No, the risk is just too great for that kind of investment.

While I know you don’t want to wait the fact is you may just have to. If you do then it’ll be that much sweeter when you get there because you did it all on your own. If you don’t and you decide to do something else than you probably saved yourself about If time and money.



Obtaining financing is often one of the largest struggles that people face. Many airlines offer Tuition Reimbursement, but that does not help with the actual approval process. If you are not able to obtain financing, your only real option is to go to a local flight school and try to pay as you go. This often takes much longer than one might want and leads to increased total costs. I think your best bet would be to save money and try applying again when you do not need to request as large of a loan.


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