Real Answers from Real Pilots

Tests/ financing while waiting on FAA deferral

That’s a concerning amount of debt. What was the principal amount of the loan?


Those terms definitely aren’t ideal. However, I wouldn’t necessarily throw in the towel right away. You have the opportunity to refinance as many times as you like as your financial situation changes. I started out with 9% and I’m down to 2.8% A lot of my ATP friends were well over 11% and they are down to 3.5% now.

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I understand that seems like a high interest rate and a high total amount of loan, but consider these points:

  1. These are essentially unsecured loans, there is nothing the bank can come take if you do not make the payments, so of course the interest rate will be higher as it represents a greater risk to the bank.

  2. Many people refinance their loans into a lower rate.

  3. Airline Captains at major airlines easily make over $300,000 per year. It only takes a year or so of working to make up that $200k debt.

You have to play the long game.



At face value I know that interest rate may be hard to accept, but with tuition reimbursement, sign on bonuses and refinancing options you wouldn’t be stuck with that interest rate forever and you could potentially pay off that loan quicker than you think.

My interest rate with Sallie Mae was 9.125%. I received $8000 in tuition reimbursement from Horizon and $10,000 in sign on bonuses and I refinanced to 5%.

Next year I will be making second year FO pay at Alaska. My loan will be paid off in two years or less, or five years early.