One question I am frequently asked is how does one afford to pay for their flight training.  My short answer is we take Cash, Check and Credit Card.  Kidding aside, no doubt, learning to fly is expensive.  How you view this expenditure can vary depending upon your own plan.  For example, learning to fly purely for fun is much different then learning to fly as a career.

If fun is what you’re after then the private license is all you really need.  Plan to spend $10,000-$15,000 spread over 6 months to 2 years in the form of $300-$350 per lesson a couple times a month to get through the program.  If that’s totally outside your budget then carefully consider whether you’ll have the money to fly after you get your license as well.  If the answer is no then maybe a different hobby is in order.  If the answer is yes then one option is to get a loan through one of the companies below.

For career bound pilots the numbers are larger but since it’s for a career there is actually a return on your investment coming back to you, the costs are easier to justify.  To get through all the licenses you’ll likely spend $60,000-$70,000 to become employable, and while you can spread that over a decade you’ll probably want to get it done quicker so you can secure that new job.  While the $70,000 seems monumental, if flying as a career is something you want to do then the payoff is there and it’s in your interest to take a loan to acquire the skills to get a great job. This is no different than any other career anywhere else – consider the cost of the training and consider the earnings.  Beauty School will cost X, you make Y.  Become a Dental Hygienist you’ll pay X for training and make Y when you graduate.  Go to school for 12 years and become a Heart Surgeon it will cost you $700K in school, takes 12 Years, but the earnings are very appealing when you get done.  Flying is no different.  Follow your interests and then investigate the COST vs RETURN.  I tend to think the ROI on professional flying is an excellent ratio.

As part of that consideration you should think about how long you intend to fly as a career.  For example a twenty-something has 40 years of flying to look forward to, that equates to a career worth as much as 6-9 million dollars.  Compared to the return of $6-9 million, the $70k in training costs is peanuts.  Meanwhile, if you’re celebrating your 58th birthday and your wish is to be an airline pilot, assuming you had all your licenses done in a year, built time your 59th year, you would would have 5 years of flying for airline work remaining, that means a total career earnings of probably $500k, the ROI isn’t as appealing.


Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
AOPA offers traditional financing as well as scholarships and tips to start your flying career

Pilot Finance
Pilot Finance will issue loans for primary training or an add-on.  We have worked with many students that used Pilot Finance and had great results.

Lending Tree

Lending Tree will issue loans for flight training.  They may possibly be the best source if you are looking to finance an entire education.


This is just a small sampling of the organizations that have scholarships available.  Keep in mind they usually expect you to have soloed before they will even consider issuing a scholarship, meaning you’ll need to be about 50% through training at a minimum.

Colorado Pilots Association

Fly With Amelia Foundation

Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)

National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Scholarships

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Scholarships

The Ninety-Nines, International Organization of Women Pilots

Tuskegee Airmen Annual Hubert L. ‘Hooks’ Jones Scholarship Award

University Aviation Association (UAA) Scholarship Listing

Women in Aviation, (WAI) International Scholarship Listing