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Old 02-15-2018, 11:50 AM   #1  
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Default Seeking advice/information....

I am seeking information about potential flight schools to pursue or what the best option is for me to become a professional pilot. I would be starting from absolutely no knowledge about aircraft or flying, I will just throw that out there.

A little background: Just turned 24 y/o, live in the Midwest nowhere near a reputable flight school, have a bachelor's in finance from a major public university, currently making 46k in the banking industry. Also, I found out around my Jr-Sr year of college that I actually find finance/business to be as boring as staring at a wall for 8 hours a day but I thought it was too late to switch majors for me. I have a relative who has flown for a major for at least my entire lifetime and also has the best lifestyle of any of my relatives. Recently I lightly brought up that I was considering flight school, maybe, and he was very passionate and encouraged it.

I have done a lot of research over the last couple weeks and I understand I'd basically be committing myself to financial hardship for at least 5, likely 10 years. The biggest obstacle, like probably everyone else, is the insane financial cost involved with flight school combined with low wages for a long time. Like, if I were to go to ATP, I'd be putting my student loan debt from 28K to around 100K, and making less money for about 5 years. I do believe that if you view it as a long term investment, in 10-20 years it will pay off, assuming you land with a major. I would not have any assistance - I would have to take a loan out for 100% of costs. I don't know details about other loan programs, but with ATP through Wells Fargo/Sallie Mae, from what I have read on this site/other sites from people with experience the loan rates are around 8% if you're lucky. As you all know that is terrible, and would put payments around $1,000/month with repayment starting 6 months after graduation, presumably while in a CFI position. CFI positions sound like they make 15-20 hr range? That puts us at like, 2,000 a month after tax income? 2,000 a month after tax income - (300 current student loan pmt + 1,000 flight school loan pmt + 300 current auto loan pmt) = literally impossible. On ATP's site, they lay out a sample guideline for tuition reimbursement as receiving $300 monthly assistance from your regional while you are a CFI, with interest only payments that would cover the majority of your payment. That basically keeps you afloat without paying a dime towards principal. In my profession, that is cringe-worthy; a colossal mistake. But it would tide you over until becoming a FO for said regional, then they pay $500 a month it seems like. Basically keeping you afloat until you get to a position where you are able to start making your big boy payments. Not sure if I'd be able to defer my federal student loans for flight school, will have to look into that.

I see ATP getting flamed left and right, a lot of which for their extreme financial burden, but the other flight schools I have viewed are actually more expensive?? ATP says their program starting from 0 is $69,995 and to prepare for additional 9k in costs. If you get your PPL in advance, the program is around 54K. My previously mentioned relative recommended Flight safety academy, theirs is over 80k. I have looked at a handful of others and have not found anything under 70K. Are there other options out there that don't sacrifice quality but would come at a lesser financial burden?

Another question I have relates to seniority. I have read/heard that now is a great time to enter the industry. My gf will be done with nursing school in 15 months and is skeptical but surprisingly relatively supportive of the flight school idea. How much would waiting 15 months hurt me?

These are all kind of feeler questions, but I truly greatly appreciate any responses and feedback.
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Old 02-15-2018, 12:44 PM   #2  
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Maybe you can get a UPT slot and your gf can be a flight nurse with the same reserve unit.
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Old 02-15-2018, 02:51 PM   #3  
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Join a guard unit, they’re hungry for UPT candidates.

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Old 02-16-2018, 02:37 AM   #4  
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You spent way too much talking about debt and loans, as if that’s the only way to do it.

You make good money for your age. Cut your budget to the bare minimum. Pay off your current debt, then save/cash flow your pilot training while keeping your day job. Get your CFI and start doing that in the evenings and weekends as an independent contractor. After a few months do it full time. You actually can make what you make now as a CFI, if you take the time to find the jobs that pay well.

Or join the reserves or guard, get paid to learn to fly.

Don’t go into debt for this career field...too many risks. Lose your medical, get a DUI, fail multiple check rides, crash a plane (with it being your fault), or just not get hired by a major.

You’re young, 15 months is not going to hurt you. Do not rush into a bad decision financially.
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Old 02-16-2018, 07:31 AM   #5  
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Do not rush into a bad decision.
Fixed for ya!

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Old 02-17-2018, 02:04 PM   #6  
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What's a "reputable flight school"? The ones that take out full page ads in magazines? You're in finance. How much do those cost? Who pays for those?

You have a job that pays fairly well straight out of college. Why not go out to the local GA airport and take a couple lessons a week after work and then during the weekend? Get your private through instructor, keep doing what you're doing until you can pay the bills flying an airplane. Don't go into massive debt for a ton of what ifs.

If you can commit 3 days a week at the airport, pay out of pocket and do a bunch of studying in your free time you could get there almost as fast, and not have a mortgage payment worth of student loans every month.
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Old 02-17-2018, 03:12 PM   #7  
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What’s the timeline of ‘pay as you go’? Two years? Three? Five? Seven? Ten years to 1500 hrs and starting the airline rush?

At his age each year of delay will cost him at least $350K per year and perhaps $450K+.

As a finance guy he can probably figure out how much debt he can absorb, ASAP, and he’ll get used to canned spaghetti, hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and money sandwiches as long as he keeps rotating them.

You can do it on the side but there’s a big financial value to going as fast as you can.

Last edited by Sliceback; 02-17-2018 at 03:14 PM. Reason: Added - you can do it...
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Old 02-23-2018, 06:44 AM   #8  
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Read this thread for just one example of why using debt for this career is very risky. Disclaimer, don’t know if the OP in the other thread used debt...doesn’t matter.


This is just one of many ways that your career can be derailed, and then to add insult to injury, you get to be reminded of it every month when you make your payment. Kind of like folks that take out big student loan debt and never complete the degree.

Edit: Not trying to argue with you Sliceback, I respect your opinion, and speed does matter, just trying to make sure he understands the gravity of his choice.
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