How to afford flight school in the USA as an international student?

how to pay for flight school

It’s challenging for many to pay for flight school and become a pilot.

Most websites only describe how Americans can pay for flight school and their debts in the future.

I discussed solutions for international students and how to pay for flight school.

There are numerous options for Americans to fund their pilot training in the USA. However, international students from India, Vietnam, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, and South Africa don’t have access to such privileges.

The options for how to pay for flight school as an international student are limited to these:

  • Request your parents to fund your pilot training;
  • Work and save up to get yourself into a flight school;
  • As a CFI, you can build flying hours.
  • Take a student loan or personal loan; (Unsafe)

These options may seem like a lot, but these are the most logical way to pay for flight school as an international student.

How to pay for flight school?

Funding an entire course to become a pilot is often affordable for most students.

Typically a professional pilot course consists there licenses and one rating:

  1. Private pilot license;
  2. Instrument Rating;
  3. Commercial pilot license;
  4. Certified flight instructor license.

Many students figure out ways to pay for a flight school to get these licenses. However, they are a big problem when they don’t get a job with these licenses.

Let me put it straight: Airlines don’t hire fresh graduates.

To get airline jobs, you need 1500 actual flying hours. On the other hand, you graduate from a flight school with roughly 250 hours under your belt.

Imagine if you take a loan to become a pilot, as many suggest, and then you don’t get a job; where would you get the money to pay your debts?

So, my first suggestion is to talk to your parents.

Request your parents to fund your pilot training.

I find the safest and easiest way to pay for flight school is by requesting your parents to give you the money to become a pilot.

However, it would be best to consider whether your parents could afford it or not.

Tell your parents to fund your pilot training until you become a certified flight instructor.

If you become a CFI, you can start working to build 1500 flying hours. A CFI earns around 2000 USD a month which is enough to get by.

When I say taking funds from parents is risk-free, I mean your parents are less likely to build pressure on you to give the money back, unlike borrowing money from financial institutions.

If you work up to become an airline pilot, you can return more than your parents gave you.

However, it’s common for our parents to think that once a student graduates from flight school, s/he can start flying for an airline and live a comfortable life.

It’s a misconception you must explain to your parents before you borrow money from them.

Like any other profession, becoming an airline pilot requires patience and dedication. You have to work your way up, and you won’t get a job with handsome pay immediately after graduation.

Thus, don’t promise your parents you will return the money in a year.

Explain to them how you need 1500 hours to become a pilot, but you want them to pay for your flight school right now. From there, it’s all your responsibility to acquire 1500 hours and get an airline pilot job.

If you give a reasonable explanation, they will understand and won’t hesitate to fund as long as they can afford it.

Work and save up to get yourself into a flight school.

Saving up is another risk-free way to pay for pilot training. It’s a longer route but possible for anyone to achieve.

Work in a different profession long enough to pay for flight school and then change career. But don’t resign from your current job.

Keep your current job and plan your pilot training on weekends.

Plenty of pilots chose this route. They worked hard and took several jobs only to save for flight school.

It takes time, but if you are dedicated and plan appropriately by 30, you can become an airline pilot.

Understand this: The initial goal for all student pilots is to graduate from flight school and build flying hours.

As an international student, you might think about how to work in a foreign country and continue pilot training. I say if there is a will, there is a way.

International students, if you can’t work during pilot training abroad. Then save enough before you pursue being a pilot abroad. Similarly, it would help to consider the living cost until you graduate.

Once you graduate from your flight school, you can work as a CFI.

As a CFI, you can build flying hours.

Many students hesitate to start pilot training when considering the cost of building 1500 flying hours. Of course, no one pays to make 1500 hours.

The professional pilot training course is already expensive for many. Aspiring pilots must manage the initial investment to pay for flight school and work their way up.

There are many ways to build flying hours as a fresh graduate. The most common form is working as a CFI in the school where you got your license.

In other cases, commercial pilots work as charter pilots to build hours.

So if you work for a few years and save up to at least fund your training until you get a commercial pilot license and CFI license, you can start building flying hours.

During flight hour build-up, you’ll have compensation.

The compensation would be enough to make ends meet. At this stage, your goal is to build hours to become eligible for an airline pilot job and not make money.

However, to live your dream, you have to work hard initially.

Take a student loan or personal loan.

Taking out a loan to study is a prevalent thing to do today. Many students take out student or personal loans to cover the cost of their studies.

Nevertheless, I consider this to be the last option to pick.

The problem with borrowing money is that the borrower has to pay the debt for years and with interest. Paying the debt on time for years is a burden for many.

Suppose you finished your pilot training and paid the flight school fees using a student loan. Soon you will understand that finding a well-paying job as a recent graduate with minimum flying hours is challenging.

With so few earnings, it would not be easy to maintain life after paying the debts.

So taking out a loan is an option to pay for flight school, but your priority should be to select other possible alternatives.

Image Source: flyguy_aviation via Instagram.

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