The process of obtaining tuition reimbursement

Happy Tuesday all, I hope everyone is well, healthy and happy.

I know this has probably been asked, but I’ve trawled through a lot of topic posts and I haven’t been able to find what I have been looking for. I was hoping that someone who has been successful with a cadet program/tuition reimbursement program be able to shed light on the process. Am I correct in thinking that you can apply for a program once you have completed all your training, and if so, does one apply to all airlines and hope for the best? In the current aviation industry climate, are chances of obtaining an offer for tuition reimbursement decent ?(obviously providing that you have been an exemplary student of course). And if you are offered a program from a particular airline, I’m assuming it could be treated almost like a conditional job offer provided you complete your 1500 hours?

Thanks for any help around these topics. I guess a majority of my decision to leave my current career hinges on how much help I can get paying off the $100k plus investment I’ll be making.

Thanks in advance.

Kyle

Kyle,

Hopefully a few current or former students will chime in with their recent TR experiences. There was nothing of the kind when I went through the program years ago. That said I’ll share what I do know.

Some of the airlines will allow you to apply as soon as your earn your PPL so they can lock you in early. As I’m sure you’re aware there’s a huge plot shortage which has created unprecedented growth in this industry. Salaries are literally 5 times what they were and in the past you were lucky to just get an interview. Now the airlines are fighting over bodies. Most people don’t apply to all the airlines as it’s really not necessary. Privided you do well in training, a relatively clean record and are able to communicate and interview fairly well you will get hired. While obviously nothing is guaranteed, really the only question mark is YOU. Bust more than a couple of checkrides and you will have issues. Be successful and you won’t. It’s really that simple. Not only will you have help paying off your debt, with second year pay in the 6 figures it’ll happen faster then ever before.

Adam

Hi Adam,

Thank you for such a swift response. If I decide to do this, I will have no choice but to make it successful as my family’s welfare depends on it, especially when leaving the comforts of my current job. It’s reassuring to know that the possibility of landing up at one of the majors is certainly there. My biggest fear is committing to flight school and not landing up with anything, and then having a large debt against my name. I’ve been called irresponsible for even considering leaving my career for wanting to pursue this which has been disheartening, so your post has given me a boost! Thank you.

Kyle

Kyle,

When I took the plunge I was a pretty successful restaurant owner with a wife, 3 kids, dog, mortgage, and car payments. Problem was I was also pretty miserable and needed to make some changes or loose my mind. When I told my wife I was going to pursue this dream she was not only not supportive, she told me I was nuts and booted me out (fortunately ATP offered housing). It was a rough first few years and required alot of sacrifice. First year pay when I started was $18k and second was $30k and as I said you were lucky to even get an interview. No Tuition Reimbursement, no hiring bonuses and if you showed up for your interview with your paperwork in the wrong order you were sent home and done. In truth perhaps I was a little crazy and a little selfish but it was something I felt I needed to do. Fortunately it all worked out, I’m a Capt at a Major making more than I ever did, have more free time, I’m a better father and husband and my wife loves telling the WORLD I’m a big shot airline pilot (plus I get to bust her chops when you gets First Class for FREE going to Europe).

That’s my story. I took a leap of faith and it was literally the best decision of my life, for ME. I obviously don’t know you and I’m in no position to tell you what is, but your statement that failure isn’t an option resonated with me because that’s exactly where I was and it literally was not. Not trying to diminish or make light of your decision but if the situation back then was as good as it is now I would have had a lot less sleepless nights and would’ve been invited home a whole lot sooner!

Adam

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Adam,

If your career as a pilot suddenly ended tomorrow, you’d certainly have no problem becoming a motivational speaker! Thanks for that, you just may have changed my life!

Kyle

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Kyle,

I did in fact explore all my options as a cadet. I applied to six different regional cadet programs, ended up flying out to orientation dates for three of them and ended up choosing Skywest. I used the exploratory phase to help me make more informed decisions on the regional that was best suited for me. Once I could confidently make that call, and only then, did I commit to that airline through the tuition reimbursement contract.

After that, I flew as much as I could and knew my loan payment was covered until I made it to the right seat of a regional jet. Of course, no one saw Covid coming and eventually that job offer was rescinded. But you know what? I had a great background from ATP, tons of ratings, good experiences as a CFI, great references and networking that I was able to get a job at a charter company. Then that job spring boarded me back to Skywest. You can only control what you can control. Work hard, utilize the opportunities in front of you to the best of your ability and hope for good timing. That’s all you can really do.

Hannah

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Kyle,

Two and a half years ago I left working a desk job taking the plunge to make my dream into a reality. After signing the then $80,000+ loan (credit private entry), I today am making pretty much that amount in a year working at a Regional Airline. During my attendance as an instructor at ATP, I applied to multiple airlines and corporate/charter companies, including some cadet pathways. After completing the cadet interviews and offered a CJO (conditional job offer), I could accept any tuition reimbursement under contract.

When I was instructing, I was making my monthly payment to my loan to keep financially stable with everyday expenses. Anything extra I would put towards the principal of the loan. Once I was eligible for tuition reimbursement, I did not use that money towards anything; in fact, I set it aside that way if I did not fly for said airline, I could repay the fullest amount immediately and not legally be held liable. Today, airline pilots are making the most that I think anyone has seen and thought. Regional pilots are making anywhere from $80,000+ to six figures their first year, with sign on bonuses etc.

Networking is key for the industry, getting to know other pilots and management of corporate members helps. I met many great individuals during my time at ATP and always kept my connections close… you never know when the opportunity comes. When you have a strong background and reputable education, your options can be endless.

Brady

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