Real Answers from Real Pilots

Leaving job to pursue Fast Track Commercial Pilot ATP P

Good evening everyone. I’ve been reading up on the forum of everyone else’s experiences in pilot training career transitions. I’m looking to hear from others on how they made the transition, financially in funding the transition. More importantly the financial obligation after the course is taken. Can anyone share their loan repayment schedule and what is typically owed after the course is taken (fast track commercial pilot at ATP).

I’ve read that it is in excess of $80k+ for the program, how have those that have taken the course gone about paying for the course before the loan and there after?

I’m 33, have a home mortgage, single no kids no car payments or crazy debts to pay off other than the home. 0 time in flight time, I do have a Bachelor’s. My goal would be commercial pilot fast track and go full fledge in training to get there.

The only way I believe I’ll be able to do this reasonably is to save a substantial amount of money to A) Pay Mortgage (necessities) every month while training and after before earning money, and B) Also apply some of this saved money towards the training costs to cut down loan amount needed. So my monthly repayment on the loan will not overwhelm me afterwards plus the mortgage payments.

I’ve read people are paying back $1000 a month or around that, and for me… that plus my mortgage/rent would leave me absolutely strapped unless I’m quickly making decent money upon completing training.

Any advices or experiences from those in shared situations please chime in!



I am in a similar situation. I took out the loan and I believe after choosing the deferred option, it will be close to 100k with all the interest. I am also doing the flex track that is a little more expensive. I requested 85k for the loan. There is a thread in here that talks about refinancing the loan after you complete training for a much better rate. Honestly if you are able to move you could always sell the house and make some money off that. Live in the student apartment set up and it might be a little cheaper. You will be flying making decent money once you hit the 1500 hours required for the ATP. Stay focused on your goal and it will work out.

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I’m sure others will chime in with their experiences but yes, it will, for most people, require some level of sacrifice and you may very well find yourself “strapped”. Hopefully when the industry returns to normal and hiring resumes we’ll see the return of tuition reimbursement which will help but if it were me I wouldn’t wait.

When I did my training I not only had a mortgage, but 2 car payments and 3 small children. First year pay at the Regionals was under $20k, it’s now double that. I did it because I wanted to fly and I also knew the potential rewards were great. Ultimately it’s up to you if it’s worth the sacrifice and you may be able to refinance but most people again find it challenging but doable.


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In 2014 my monthly loan payments were around $750/mo at 9% on a 15yr loan. The interest rate was so high that I could only make interest payments. Thankfully I was able to receive Tuition Reimbursement from Horizon which helped cover the full payment. I lived rent free during the program. I lived in student housing as a CFI.

In 2017 I refinanced my loan to 5%. I made $500 payments in 2018. I made $1000 payments in 2019. Rent in 2017 was $800/mo. Rent in 2018 was 1100/mo. Rent in 2019 was $2000/mo (split with fiancé).

I refi’d again in 2020 to reduce my payments to $770/mo as my financial priorities changed when I got married. We have a target savings goal to purchase a home by January 2022. My second refi extended my loan payment amortization from 2025 to 2027, still two years sooner than the original 15 yr loan. Rent right now is $2400/mo (split with wife).

I also refi’d my auto loan from 4% to 2% which helps me put more money in savings. When we buy a house I plan to pay off the car early to avoid the extra interest. I’m also contributing 10% to my Roth, 10% to my ESPP, and opened a Target Index Fund inside my HSA.

I know my finances were all over the place in the beginning, but since I started listening to the How to Money podcast I finally feel like I have a good strategy.



Initially you can secure a loan with Sallie Mae, having a co-signer helps. Then throughout your program you won’t have to pay off a single thing. Then there is the post graduation grace period of 6 months and I believe you can even qualify for an interest only payment program until you secure a job at the regionals. You should contact the ATP financing department for more specific details.
I had a co-signer, went though the 6 month grace period and then got tuition reimbursement through Skywest. Once I started making more I was able to refinance from 7.57% to 3.2% and lower my payment to about $600 a month.


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Thank you all for your input.

Your replies each, help provide me with some perspective. I’m willing to make the leap… realistically I just won’t allow myself to do it unless I have thousands more in my savings for good measure.

A few years ago I felt strongly about pursuing my interest of joining the military to become an aviator, began studying, dropping weight… then after reading about the eye sight requirements I quickly became discouraged and backed off. I have absolutely poor vision, sure it’s corrected to 20/20 with contacts (-4.00 / -4.50 in each eye), but I refuse to get lasik as well… that’s a no go for me. I would have to be guaranteed a spot to fly the B-1 bomber or F18 before I would sit in the chair for that procedure. ha!

I need to generate some more cash flow asap to get this ball rolling.

Thanks for all your assistance.

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I had Lasik, I would not recommend it to anybody. It has caused me a world of problems.

Joining any of the military (with the lone exception of the Air National Guard) to ONLY ultimately become a commercial pilot is a fools errand as well. There are many pitfalls and sidetracks that can certainly derail that process. Someone has to fly for the military, but many will end up with other career paths in the military due to needs of the service, medical considerations, and just normal competition. Also, the training path/minimum career is over a decade in most cases, so bottom line, if your GOAL is to be a commercial pilot, you are better off considering a civilian track, if your GOAL is to be in the military serving your country for a minimum of a decade, then pursue that by all means. As a 23yr veteran, I know first hand that the country needs great citizens to volunteer!