Veteran assistance

Hey there,

I’m currently enlisted in the Air Force for 3 more years and I am 18 and will be out at 21. Anyways as each day goes by I’m more interested in pursuing aviation as a career. As an airmen everyday I see planes takeoff and land and always wonder what it’s like up there in the cockpit. To get straight to the point I know ATP is not covered by the VA at the moment hopefully in 3 years it’ll be different. As far as options go, what would you seasoned pilots recommend as my best option because to me ATP still seems like the best option to ultimately end up an airline pilot as well as the fastest. And we all know time is money. The 80k investment seems well worth it for me for a life of an amazing career. I have 40,000 from my parents that was for college but isn’t needed anymore because I’ll be a veteran. Also I could possibly recoup and large amount of that loan from pursuing a degree after being hired (36 months of BAH, example Los Angeles where I’m from is 2900 a month over 36 months 104,400 all tax free) Curious if any veterans have experience using the 9/11 bill to eventually reach an airline pilot? Thank you for your time.


Hopefully some others with VA experience will chime in. ATP will not be covered by VA benefits in 3 years or probably ever. The VA will only pay for Part 141 flight schools AND will only pay a fixed amount towards flight training. An accelerated program can’t exist with those two conditions.

I do have to ask being you’re already in the military why you wouldn’t pursue that as an option to fly?


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Eric -

BAH is paid out at an E-5 rate w/dependents for that school’s location if the student is attending the university full time.Not sure how this would conflict with your work schedule once you got to that point. If it’s online only, it pays out $894 (as of August 2019).

Tuition Assistance should still be available to you while active. Take advantage of it for the next 3 years and slowly knock out a degree. Talk to your NCOs and let them know you want to take advantage of Tuition Assistance. Might get you some brownie points with your chain of command.

Andrew McL

Eric, after a lot of research and contemplation of what is best for my family and I… I decided to take the university route (starting this fall) for obtaining my licenses. It will be longer, but virtually free with my Post 9/11 (which I fully recommend you opt for over the Montgomery). There is no doubt ATP would be faster, but this route is what’s best for me. Using the GI bill for ratings through VA approved schools (non academic) is a tremendous waste of benefit. You’ll still come out of pocket for a lot of money, because you’ll have to already have a PPL and you have the be dual enrolled in instrument and commercial.

Yeah, you only need to take one class on campus to receive full BAH. Just finishing up on my level up training this month, then will be able to start knocking some classes out.

Honestly as of right now I just don’t want to stay in the service. There are many benefits but ultimately I’d like to be home around family rather than gone for months, years at a time.

One class? I’m pretty sure “full time” is tied to credits per semester. Those barracks lawyers may be feeding you some wrong info - I recommend you do your own research!


If home time is your reason for leaving the military, a career in the airlines isn’t that much of an improvement.

An aviation career with a 9am-5pm “normal” home life is the exception, not the normal.


You may have a couple of options to get started while in the AF. For the discernment piece of determining if this is really what you want to do if the base has an aero club you can get reasonable intro flight and flight training to get to your private pilot license. If commercial pilot is what you want, during your research of how don’t forget you can use tuition assistance to get the general credits for your bachelor’s. There are university aviation programs that after graduation with a bachelor’s you need 1000 hours vs the 1500 from ATP. Some associate programs drop the number to 1250, but I don’t think that would offset the time investment. There is a sweet spot somewhere in there between time and investment. It would take some research to make sure everything will transfer ect. to max the benefit. Final thought is once you are full up round in your AFSC look at Palace Chase into AF Reserve. You would still complete your enlistment, but have more ability to pursue commercial pilot training and/or get into an enlisted flying AFSC. Best of luck!

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One class on campus and the rest online of course… To meet the min credit hours to be considered “full time”.

Yeah been doing some research, there’s definitely a sweet spot where I’m not wasting my benefits, money, nor time. I have a ton of time to knock out and few generals and plan and research. Appreciate it.

Being home 5-10 days a month would be huge for me spending time with my family rather than months to years.

I would consult with the VA and/or your base education center to verify you’ll get the full-time vs online BAH if a majority of your classes are online.