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Compare flight school loans

Turn your dream of becoming a pilot into a reality.

Flight school can be costly, especially if your program doesn't qualify for federal aid. But don't let the sticker price deter you. If your dream is to become a pilot, you have options to pay for flight school beyond traditional student loans.

Name Product Filter Values APR Min. Credit Score Loan Amount
Best Egg personal loans
7.99% to 35.99%
$2,000 to $50,000
A prime online lending platform with multiple repayment methods.
Credible personal loans
3.99% to 35.99%
Fair to excellent credit
$600 to $100,000
Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose an offer from a selection of top online lenders.
Upstart personal loans
5.6% to 35.99%
$1,000 to $50,000
This service looks beyond your credit score to get you a competitive-rate personal loan.
SoFi personal loans
7.99% to 23.43%
$5,000 to $100,000
A highly-rated lender with competitive rates, high loan amounts and no fees.
LendingClub personal loans
6.34% to 35.89%
$1,000 to $40,000
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

Compare up to 4 providers

5 student loans you can use for flight school

Loan amountAPRTermEligibility requirements
Federal Direct Subsidized Loans$3,500 to $6,500 per year — depending on what year you are in school
  • Interest rate:2.75%
  • Origination fee:1.059%
Up to 25 years

Undergraduate student, enrolled at least half time at a Title IV school, demonstrate financial need, meet otherfederal student aid eligibility requirements

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Undergraduates: $5,500 to $7,500 per year — depending on what year you are in school
  • Graduate and professional students: Up to $20,500 per year
  • Undergraduate interest rate:2.75%
  • Graduate and professional student interest rate:4.3%
  • Origination fee:1.062%
Up to 25 yearsUndergraduate, graduate or professional student; enrolled at least half time at a Title IV school; meet otherfederal student aid eligibility requirements
Federal Direct Grad PLUS LoansUp to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance
  • Interest rate:7.08%
  • Origination fee:4.236%
Up to 25 yearsGraduate or professional student, enrolled at least half time at a Title IV school, no adverse credit history, meet otherfederal student aid eligibility requirements
Wells FargoUp to $120,000
  • Interest rate:4.8% to 11.26%
  • Origination fee: Varies
VariesGood to excellent credit or creditworthy cosigner, ages 18+, US citizen or permanent resident
Sallie Mae$1,000 to $200,000
  • Interest rate: 5.74% to 12.37%
  • Origination fee: Varies
VariesYou may be eligible if you are at least 18 years old and if you are US citizen or permanent resident

In addition to these loan options, some lenders offer financing specifically for pilot training. AOPA Aviation Finance and We Florida Financial Credit Union both provide financing to help you earn your pilot’s license.

Can I get federal student loans for flight school?

Yes, but only if you’re attending an accredited flight school, like the National Aviation Academy. Most flight schools aren’t accredited, however.

How to apply for student loans for flight school

When you’re ready to apply for aid, make sure you have information about yourself and your finances on hand to make the application process a little easier. Then follow these steps:

  1. Check if your program is accredited. Contact your flight school to see if its program is accredited. If your school isn’t eligible, your loan options will be much more limited.
  2. Submit the FAFSA. Even if you’re not eligible for federal financial aid, you should still submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some scholarship programs ask for it when determining your financial need.
  3. Research scholarships and grants. There are a slew of flight school and aviation scholarships offered by organizations across the US, such as Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA), Women in Aviation International and more.
  4. Compare private loan options. While most private student loan providers require borrowers to attend an accredited school, there are a few that offer loans specifically for training programs, such as Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae.
  5. Look into personal loans. Once you’ve exhausted your free aid and student loan options, you may want to compare personal loans. Some have restrictions on how you can use the funds, so check with the lender first before applying.

What to watch out for when borrowing for flight school

Keep these three factors in mind when you’re comparing loans for flight school:

  • High interest rates. Private student loans and personal loans tend to have higher interest rates than federal student loans — especially if you don’t have the best credit. Understand the amount you’ll need to repay before you commit to a loan.
  • Eligibility requirements. You’ll need to attend an accredited flight school to qualify for federal aid and most private student loans. And personal loan providers might not let you use the funds for postsecondary education.
  • Immediate repayments. While federal student loans and most private options come with deferred repayments until after you finish school, this isn’t the case with personal loans — repayments usually begin within a month.

Should I go to flight school?

Weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding if flight school is right for you:

Benefits of attending flight school

  • Quick programs. Training for a private pilot’s license typically only takes a few months to complete. And training to fly commercially can take as little as two years — it all depends on how fast you’re able to bank 1,500 flight hours, on top of ground training.
  • High pay. Commercial pilots earned a median pay of $115,670 in 2018, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Ease of travel. Once you get your private pilot’s license, you can travel just about anywhere.

Drawbacks of attending flight school

  • Different training adds up. Pilots need to earn a variety of licenses — especially if you plan to fly commercial planes. While the payoff can be decent, taking out multiple loans for different programs can get expensive.
  • Limited loan options. If your program isn’t accredited — and most aren’t — you won’t be eligible for federal loans and quite a few private options.
  • Costs are per hour. For most flight schools, you pay an hourly rental fee in addition to the cost of testing. This means earning your license can cost more if you need additional instruction or just want more time in the air before you go it alone.

Alternative ways to pay for flight school

Beyond student and personal loans, here are three other ways you can reduce the amount you pay toward flight school:

  • Scholarships and grants. There are plenty of scholarship opportunities available through aviation organizations. If you’re looking for a way to cut the cost of flight school, look to these first.
  • Airline training programs. Some airlines — like JetBlue, PSA Airlines and Delta — offer training programs that end with a job offer. The exact scope of the training and how much you pay will vary, so compare programs to find the airline that best suits your needs.
  • School financing. Some schools partner with private lenders to offer financing. This can help ease the burden of searching for loans you may not ultimately qualify for.

Bottom line

Ready to turn your dream of becoming a pilot into a reality? You might want to start by looking into scholarships offered by different aviation organizations to reduce how much you need to borrow. Then you can pick up the slack by taking out a student loan or personal loan from a private lender.

Frequently asked questions

How much does a pilot’s license cost?

It depends on the type of license and the rental cost for instructor and solo flights. A private license can cost over $9,000 — and the training to become a commercial pilot can be even more expensive.

Where can I find financing to buy my own plane?

There are two main ways to finance an aircraft: an aviation loan or personal loan. The best option for you will depend on your credit score, income and personal financial situation.

Can I take out a loan with bad credit?

It’s possible, but you may need a cosigner. Otherwise, you could get stuck with high interest rates — if you’re even approved at all.

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