Payment of Loan after the program

Hello all

I am looking to take the money out for the program in Sacramento (Since that one is the closest to me) and I’m a bit worried about the payment after I finish the program. What have you guys experienced with those repayment plans? How can you afford the payments on these high dollar amount loans when the money coming in after the program is going to be minimal?

I am still needing to live and support a family after and this large amount is a bit intimidating. I guess I’m really just worried about the time frame from finishing the program to that 1,500 hour mark and how I can survive financially.

Any advice is greatly welcomed.

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This is a very common concern and obviously we are talking about ALOT of money. Fortunately, with the current pilot shortage things have greatly improved.

First the payments usually don’t start till 6mos after you complete the training and then you can usually defer them further if necessary. Second most of the Regionals are offering Tuition Reimbursement which will help manage a good piece of the payment. Next with the current hiring bonuses in the 6 figures in many cases you can pay off the entire loan very quickly. Finally with first year pay being in the $80ks (vs $18-30k which it had been for decades), while it’ll still require some sacrifice, you’re in a far better position than almost every pilot was just a few years ago.



When you say “first year pay” is that after you finish the program or when you sign with a Regional?

When you are hired at a Regional.

Average instructor pay is mid to high $20ks.


Thank you for the quick responses Adam.

My follow up to that is what other options are there, after the program finishes, that could bring in more money? Or is the only route, after the program, to become an instructor?


There are definitely other options available for low time pilots. As for what jobs that can vary by area. If you’re near farms there’s cropdusting, the beach has banner towing, cities have traffic watch, etc etc etc.

Most people instruct simply because there are usually positions available, it actually pays reasonably well and provides a good number of hours. Thing to keep in mind also is many of the airline agreements are contingent on you instructing for ATP.

The bottomline is these are all entry level positions and none are going to pay well. This profession has great potential but it does require some sacrifice in the beginning.



Thank you for all the help Adam. This was very informative. I’m sure I’ll have more questions here soon in the future.


Term pilot shortage!!!
These days I see a lot of my friends,their training being pushed back months and months they are applying and not getting anything back. I’m almost done with my multi engine I see people struggling with finding jobs. I have many Cfi‘s friends that they have over 1500 still can’t get a job. I believe there’s a qualified pilot shortage Sky West go Jets, envoy even charter companies they have difficulty at least reaching back to applicants.
At this point, I kind of lost hope after seeing all of these people getting done their hours, and not hearing back from jobs are applying for.


I understand you and your friends might not be getting calls as soon as you hit 1500hrs like you were all counting on (mainly due to a backlog in training caused by the shortage). BUT, things are literally the best they’ve ever been, pilots are being hired in record numbers (over 1,000 ATP grads in the last 12mos alone) and you and your friends have the potential to earn more in your careers than any pilots ever have.

With this in mind if you’re “losing hope” then you may have chosen the wrong career path.



Your experience is not at all what I am hearing from pilots out there. Yes, there are some slow downs for training, but the airlines are still hiring at a record pace.

It always surprises me (I guess it shouldn’t) when there is a peak in hiring and it becomes the new, expected norm. Long before the pilot shortage, hiring was still plugging along and people like me an dAdam got hired. No, it was not the same as our new recent norm where pilots got to 1,500 hours and immediately got a call, we used to have to apply, wait, and hope for a call. That is called normalcy and it many ways, it was a good thing.


Adam, Chris
I have been in this form for almost 4 years. Thank to both of you and other pilot mentors that you guys are always willing to share and help. Aviation to me is new born to this life I love my life and what I do every single day.


I am glad we could be of help. Keep plugging away at your time, you will get there.


Good morning Christopher. Your question is very timely for me. I too am looking at the Sac ATP program and deciding options for how to pay for it. I’ve also been researching opportunities for employment afterwards.

I have found everything Adam said is correct. I’m already a private pilot and have a first class medical, so I’ll have about 500 hours after completing school. I met a FedEX feeder airline recruiter at the Capitol Airshow last year. He said when I complete IFR/commercial with those number of hours there are enough to get opportunities to fly with them out of Fresno and Sac. This is because they are losing pilots to the regionals so quickly they need people. I need to get more information to verify this. I also don’t know what the pay is or how many hours per week, but it has encouraged me to look for more information about being a cargo pilot.

The other recommendation is to look at the Sling Flight School in LA or San Diego. I took a flight with an instructor at ATP in Sac and like the people and their operation. I am scheduled to go to Sling LA location for a tour and flight next Friday.

On the surface, the Sling program advantages are that it is about $30K less, is a slight shorter program, and has apartments nearby that allow month to month. Sling uses light sport aircraft compared to ATP, however the website states they can be used for training and they have specific aircraft to practice real IMC (I believe them but I’m going to confirm).

The other reason I’m looking a Sling is I was told the SkyWest partner program that provides tuition reimbursement does not require you to work as a CFI to get the benefit. ATP does. I only got that from one source, so I’m actively checking to see if this is true. I would like to work as a CFI, however ATP is not able to guarantee that you would be a CFI at the school location you trained (I was told you usually can, but not always). I want to have the option to work for a FedEX or other company and still take advantage with the tuition partnerships.

Christopher- I hope this information is helpful. Maybe we’ll be flying together soon!

I would ask anyone that can provide any further details about what I discussed above to please provide corrections, update or other ideas.

Thank you,


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Nice post. I’m not familiar with Sling but I just took a quick look at their website. They’re definitely cheaper due to the fact they’re using LSA aircraft (although their timeline is actually a month longer?). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that and while it’s legal, I find it troubling that your training would be done in planes that aren’t actually certified for IFR. And while they do have a plane that is, if the weather is junk you and everyone else will be fighting for that plane.

The biggest thing that stood out to me is in their alumni section I saw 1 picture of 1 pilot who’s at Endeavor (I also noticed they compare themselves to College programs but not ATP). Cheaper or not you want results. ATP has had over 1,000 pilots hired at the airlines in the last 12mos alone and literally tens of thousands over the 4 decades they’ve been in existence. ATP grads are literally flying (in numbers) at EVERY Major airline in the country. We’re talking Delta, AA, United, SWA, Hawaiian, FedEx, UPS, etc etc etc. This is an investment in your future and sometimes you do get what you pay for.

Just some food for thought.



Just want to clarify, if you take tuition reimbursement from any company you will be contractually obligated to follow through with your future employment. If you decide to go elsewhere, you’ll have to pay back every cent paid to you.

You can apply to as many pathway programs as you like, just think twice before you commit to anything.




Have you seen ATP’s housing opportunities? ATP also has housing at select locations which offer month-month payment schedules. Maybe right now SAC does not offer housing because it’s full, but there is always students coming and going as they complete the program.

For pathways, ATP has 38 partnerships with airlines, many of which are offering tuition reimbursement. One caution on tuition reimbursement or sign-on bonuses, you must provide the airline a commitment in return for their investment to you. And guess what - Empire Airlines is a partner of ATP, which is a feeder for FedEx.


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Steve, Thank you for your response!

We are both going through the same ideas and channels. I have looked at the Sling academy in LA as well, and if I wasn’t going out of the country for vacation this week I’d be going this Friday too. I’d love to hear what you come up with after this visit you have planned.

I’d love to catch up more and bounce some things off of each other. See what you have come up with on your side.

Hope to fly together soon!!

My cousin fly’s out of the airport in LA where the Sling program is and he gave me some insight on this program from a friend of his who had some hand in the academy prior. He stated some good and some bad things about it. Similar to what you were just mentioning Adam.

I’d love to hear what Steve thinks about the tour he takes on Friday.