I’m sure this is a FAQ, but I haven’t found my exact scenario in any post so here it is.
I could potentially go to ATP in Philly, but they tell me I’d have to wait until summer 2024 to start a fast-track program from zero time. As you could imagine, I don’t want to wait that long, because for one I’m eager to start now and leave my current job, for 2 I’m afraid by the time I start and ultimately accomplish everything I’d need to accomplish, all the pilot shortage bonus money and loan reimbursement will be over and gone. So, I’m thinking okay I’ll just go to a different flight school near Philly, do a fast-track program and boom problem solved. However, I’ve found that other flight schools are not partnered with Sallie Mae. They are partnered with loan companies that offer money for flight training, but no option to add monthly financial assistance for things like my rent and car note during the program. I’ve read that Sallie Mae gives you the option to take an extra $2000 per month for living expenses, which I would need. Please correct me if I’m wrong. So, I said okay, what about a $12k personal loan or something? But I feel like if I take loans from two different places, I’ll end up with two large monthly payments that I wouldn’t be able to make at least not at first. So, I’m asking if anyone knows someone in my situation and what they did? Where else could I get the money I need all in one place? Should I just wait 6 months?
That is because everyone’s scenario and story is different.
I could imagine the waitlist for some locations is further out there and that may not be a bad thing for some people. You mention you don’t want to wait and I’m assuming there’s a lot of factors playing into that with the current market and industry. Are you able to continue working at your job until that timeframe comes? A quick newsflash, the SHORTAGE is not going anywhere anytime soon. Have you not seen headlines and reports all over saying the shortage is going to play into the 2030’s? Cadet programs and bonuses (that I can foresee) will only continue to stay and grow larger in value.
I am familiar with the Greater Philadelphia area and aware of the flight schools you may be thinking about. While they sound competitive to ATP, to me, I view them as a copy-cat of ATP, not being able to produce the statistics that ATP can, though. I would recommend you discuss any financial concerns with a financial advisor. I have two student loans, one for my 4-year degree and flight school, both at different interest rates. Personally, I wouldn’t take two loans out at different interest rates and prices for flight training, but that’s just me. In my opinion, it seems best to wait for ATP’s start date and continue working at your present job to save some money.
How do you know the pilot shortage will still be here in 6mos? As Brady said the forecast is it’ll continue through the decade but all it takes is another pandemic or major act of terrorism and things can come to a grinding halt. If you’re doing this simply because there’s a shortage and it’ll easy to get a job that’s a bad reason. Things can and do change BUT good pilots will find a way to be successful.
With success in mind I also wouldn’t choose a flight school based on their bank affiliation. Not sure what program you’re looking at but I can guarantee it will not compete with ATPs success rate and history of excellence.
Take a deep breath. I can hear the hustle just reading your post. Rushing in to decisions often lead to poor outcomes. Seniority matters and starting sooner rather than later is important. But risking the quality and success of your flight training and questionable loan options over starting 6 months sooner isn’t worth it.
ATP has a proven track record of success getting people to their dream career, supporting them financially along the way with flexible loan repayment, tuition reimbursement programs and pathway programs. Pilot training demand is at an all time high and everyone is choosing ATP for those reasons. Apply, secure the earliest class date you can and start knocking out written exams in the time being to set yourself up for success.
Hey Adam, thanks for your advice. I’m not on the fence about whether or not to become a pilot. Just trying to make the right decision on how to go about it. I know I’m going to need a loan, not only for the training, but for my rent and other bills, so I figured it wouldn’t benefit me to wait any longer than I have to start training, considering airlines are offering large bonuses at the moment and obviously there’s no way to know when they’ll stop. I would love to not have to think about which bank loan makes the most sense for my circumstances, but that’s not the case. Thank you again.
Let me give you some insight. Before I started at ATP back in 2019, I enrolled 9 months out in early November of 2018. While everyone has a different situation, and I’m not sure about your job situation, let me explain the benefits of giving yourself some time.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed as a flight instructor that has caused student failures or stifling of progress is their lack of studying the ground knowledge. ATP is an accelerated program that requires you to not only pass a flying portion for each license, but also a ground oral portion. You have a 6 month opportunity to not only study all the materials and books ATP will provide you, but also knock out all your written test which will be a great benefit to you. Why? You’ll be able to spend more time focused on your flying skills and if you have any free time you can study and reinforce the knowledge you have already read about. This will help prepare you for your instructor training as you’ll be required to be the subject matter expert passing your knowledge on to the next group of aspiring pilots.
If being a pilot is something you want to be more than anything else, use your eagerness to wisely prepare for this major career change so that you can be successful in the long run. Hope this helps and and wish you the best on your future endeavors.
Could you please elaborate more on the tuition reimbursement programs? Is this something through ATP or is one just hoping for an airline to hire them that may have a tuition reimbursement program? The website does not go into detail on this subject, however it is part of their advertisement, and you just mentioned it here as well, so I was hoping for more details.
Tuition reimbursement is offered through partnered airlines with ATP that give opportunity of student and/or instructor financial incentives, in promise to work for a X term with the company; most contracts are a 24-month term. This is one of the benefits of training and instructing for ATP, a smaller-scale school does not necessarily have these types of partnerships.
To view a list of ATP’s partnered airlines, visit here:
I apologize if this is obvious, but with what’s going on in the industry I feel it’s important to point out. Accepting a conditional offer and Tuition Reimbursement is a contract to commit to a particular carrier. It’s not the airline handing you money and hoping you’ll stick around. Should a better offer present itself and you chose to bail on the airline you will be responsible to give the money back and if you don’t they will come after you. It’s not something to be taken casually.
Most airlines have pathway programs, some offer tuition reimbursement or signing bonuses. Some require you to stay employed with certain parter flight schools while others is simply mentorship and a guaranteed interview. You really need to do the research, read the fine print and don’t commit to any of the programs until you are 100% sure. There is a lot of “free” money floating around for pilots but it comes with plenty of strings attached, so pursue cautiously.