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Tips for Affording or Reducing the Costs of Pilot Training

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You’ve been dreaming of becoming a commercial pilot, but now you’re facing a problem: You don’t have the money to pay for the training and certification it requires. Are there ways to overcome that, besides the obvious one of spending years saving every penny you can? Yes, and a few such ways follow.

Work for a Flight School
Before we get into other methods, one solution to paying for pilot training is obtaining student loans. While this would certainly be a fast way to get down the road with your goals, you may need other options in place of or in addition to loans. This is where working for a flight school can come in handy.

Working for a flight school may come with a discount for employees. Between the income and discount received while working there, you may be able to make a sizable dent in your training costs. If you aren’t sure how to get started working for a flight school, networking with people in the business is a good place to begin. Spending time around places such as a hangar could open doors by sparking the interest of potential employers.

Another option for getting your foot in the door is to get a job at the airport. Because of the close proximity to other people in the field, you may encounter the right opportunity to help you reach your goals.

Check Into Scholarships
Just as with many other types of schooling, scholarships are available for prospective pilots. There are dozens of possible scholarships to choose from, including from organizations such as National Air Transportation Foundation Scholarship and Boeing.

The rules for scholarships will vary from one institution to another. Boeing, for example, instructs prospective pilots to contact your school to understand whether Boeing scholarships are available through it and what the rules are.
Another scholarship program, The Ninety-Nines Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarships & Awards, provides scholarships with rules varying across a long list of chapters. The most basic, universal rule for theirs is that the applicant must be a 99s member.

In addition to scholarships, apply for a Federal Pell Grant, too. Like a scholarship, this money is granted permanently with no repayment requirements.

Begin By Taking Small Steps
While you may not have the means to get all the way through pilot training right now, perhaps you have enough to get started. While flight training can become costly rather quickly, you may be able to take affordable steps by enrolling in ground school at first. This would allow you to begin building a knowledge base to pass requisite testing and confidently fly, when the time comes.

Ground school covers the theoretical side of flying and may be available through online training programs. A word of caution, however: Be sure to read up on the current training requirements for obtaining a pilot’s license! It would not be any savings whatsoever if the school you attended wasn’t legitimately able to provide you the training that would garner your license.

Strike a Deal With Your Life Partner
If you have a partner you’re sharing your life with, such as a spouse, you may be able to create an arrangement where you trade off who is working a job versus who is undergoing career-advancement training. One of you can work full time while the other attends school, and when the education is completed, the roles reverse. Trading off in this manner can help not only your own career dreams but your partner’s as well.

Seek Airline-Sponsored Training
Several airlines have programs for sponsoring prospective pilots. The airline will invest in your training by paying a portion of your costs on the basis that you will work for them if you pass each step of the rigorous education requirements.

While paying for the training may seem unattainable at times, don’t lose hope. When your dream is strong enough, it’s worth pursuing with every fiber of your being until you’ve achieved your goals.

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