Paying back my loan

I’ve seen a few posts on the subject but I can’t find any made in the last 2 years or so since many regionals and majors have increased their pay. For context, I am 23 years old and have been approved with Sallie Mae for 105,000 at a 4.75% rate with a cosigner (I took out a little extra to cover DPE fees). My start date is in September and I am absolutely thrilled to get started. I have a first-class medical and passed my private written. I am scared that I will have trouble being able to pay back the loan as a CFI. I believe the current rate is $20/ flight hr and $17 for ground instruction. I would like to hear your insight with regard to updated tuition reimbursement from regionals and sign-on bonuses that could be used to pay down my loan a little early. Additionally, am I at risk of regional airlines getting rid of some of these incentives in the next few years, or will the pilot shortage continue and airlines continue to offer incentives like these? Specifically, Endeavor currently offers up to $110,000 at the time of captain upgrade and in the 24 months following. By the time I am there, do you think this will still be a viable option? I’m just anxious about such a large financial leap and consistently find myself second-guessing the program and considering doing my training at another school. Am I just experiencing regular stress about the loan or are my thoughts about finding another path valid.

Thank you in advance for the help, I would really love to experience the full immersion training and take advantage of the effieiciency that ATP offers.


First and foremost, none of us have crystal balls nor can we predict the future. While the pilot shortage is forecast to continue till the late 2020s-2030, things can of course change.

That said here’s a few things that should put your mind at ease to some degree. First the fact that Regional pay has gone up so dramatically. Even if the bonuses were to disappear, just a few years ago pilots were looking at paying back those loans with starting pay in the $20s-30k range. That was tough.

Next should Tuition Reimbursement disappear you can always differ the loan payments or make interest only payments while you’re instructing. This would put off the burden until you’re actually hired.

Finally as we recently saw, even while the global pandemic slowed the industry down, despite predictions this would crush the shortage, once the pandemic was over, hiring resumed to even greater numbers.

Long short I’d be more concerned with doing well in training then the shortage or incentives going away.