High School Senior - College/Financial Problems

Hello, I am a 17 year old senior from New Jersey getting ready to choose where to go to college. I have been accepted to the flight program at Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach but I have received little financial aid and as of now I don’t know how I will be able to afford it. I have also been accepted into engineering programs at numerous other schools such as Rutgers and FAU where I will most likely major in mechanical engineering, but also doing flight training off campus. As of now I have no flight experience and I was wondering what would be my best option financially as to making my way towards earning my commercial license? I have been looking through numerous scholarships but the bigger ones are more competitive and I’m not sure how much money I will get from the ones I applied to. I have also been looking into ROTC but as of right now I don’t have the GPA(2.8) to get a scholarship from them so I would have to bring it up my first year of college and then apply over the summer. If anyone has any tips or different programs they could recommend to me it would be a huge help. Thank you!


None of us are huge fans of aviation programs. As you’ve discovered they’re usually VERY expensive and offer little backup should aviation not work out.

Since you say you have no flight experience your first priority should be to get some. While many people believe they’d like to fly professionally, until you actually go up in a small plane and experience what will be your workplace for the first couple of years. There are dozens of flight schools in NJ including 2 ATP locations. I recommend you set up and intro flight before you do anything else to see if you’re wasting your time and energy on something you really don’t enjoy.

Finally as far as training goes you’d be best served finishing your education and then doing your flight training full time. This is the most efficient and cost effective route there is.


I’ll be sure to take an intro class over the summer and I also have a potential summer job working at a private airport once COVID slows down where I will be able to gain knowledge on the industry. Thank you for reaching out!



I am also not a fan of aviation programs. They tend to be very expensive and not really offer much more than a regular college combined with flight school can.

Definitely get your intro flight done and go from there. In the meantime, spend some time checking out the FAQ section as there is a ton of good information there.


Mercer County college has an aviation program, and are affiliated with a robust part 141/61 flight school at TTN.

If you’re near central NJ that’s a great option.

Congratulations on your acceptance into these colleges! It’s great having these options.

I am an anesthesiologist practicing in Maryland, but originally from NJ. I became a private pilot awhile ago (1992, at age 21), and have since become instrument, multi-engine and sea plane rated. I fly our PA32 Saratoga and PA28 Warrior around 200 hrs/yr for both personal business and pleasure.

My interest in flying began with Microsoft Flight Simulator back in 1985. It was definitely a “gateway drug.” Once I took my first real flight at age 15 in a Piper tomahawk at TEB airport I was hooked!

I, too, contemplated a career in aviation early on, and had very few $$$ to do so. I ultimately pursued other interests in business and ultimately medicine. I have no regrets.

I am at Somerset airport (KSMQ) twice a month visiting family (whenever there isn’t a pandemic). My best friend’s son is 16 and will be using our Warrior to begin flight training as soon as the world stops coming to an end.

I would be happy to take you up in either of our birds so that you can see what it’s really like, in all of its (sometimes not so) glory, once this virus chills out.

Best of luck in your endeavors,

What a great gesture!

I took my PPL exam out of KSMQ! Small aviation world.


From what I’ve heard from different reddit topics and a lot of other forums they all say the same thing about aviation programs but I didn’t know if trusting the information would be the best option because of the source, but thank you for your advice!



Thank you for the tip! I’ve been looking into a lot of county colleges and thinking about doing 2 years at one and 2 years at an university with an aviation program. A friend on my hockey team has been looking into doing the same as he also wants to be a pilot.


Thank you for that awesome gesture! I’ll definitely have to take you up on the offer once COVID-19 slows down. I’ve been attending a magnet high school and have been specializing in exercise physiology. And after taking multiple Rutgers level medical courses I’ve found I have no interest in the medical field lol. Hopefully we can keep in touch and possibly figure out a date over the summer!

Thanks Again,