Financing Flight School: How to make it affordable


At Flex Air we provide you with several loan and payment plan options so you can pick the best one for your needs. Our team will continue working with you if you’re disapproved for a loan. We also offer free scholarship guides and scholarship application workshops to our pilot candidates. 

Choosing the best way to fund your flight training requires a deep look at your own finances, and a lot of planning. Personal finance is just that… very personal. You have to get smart about your personal budget, maxing out your credit score, and preparing to "sprint".

Flex Air's accelerated flight training programs are affordable because they are accelerated. The faster you finish training, the faster you’ll land your first paid job as a pilot. To make flight school affordable, you need to sprint through it as quickly as possible.

loan documents

Build a financing plan with our career mentors.

When you consider the $100,000 initial pay for regional airline First Officers plus the $400,000 salaries for experienced mainline Captains, a training loan for accelerated flight training may make sense.

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Flight Training Student Loans: Myths and Opportunities

With some airline pilots banking over $10 million in income over their careers, financing your flight training may be a smart move. Flex Air has more loan options than most flight schools, and we stay with our prospective students every step of the way with our unique Loan Copilot

Many aspiring pilots think student loans are only available for college programs. Not true! At Flex Air you get the best of both worlds. You can choose from a range of college-quality lenders AND you can attend college courses through our college flight training programs.

Setting Up Your Student Loan: Every Pilot needs a Checklist

We have provided information here to help you in this process. Please research all options and plan accordingly when setting up a student loan account. Some students are interested in consolidated loans. You can discuss options with these lenders. They will check your credit score when you apply. Most student loans do not expect you to begin making payments until you graduate and begin your career.

Application Checklist

Having these documents prior to starting will help you complete your Meritize Loan Application quickly

Personal Information

  • Email address
  • Phone number (where you want to be reached)
  • Permanent mailing address that can be verified with proper documentation
  • Utility bill, leasing agreement
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number

Academic Experience

  • Highest level of education completed
  • Name of college or high school
  • Graduation date
  • Official or unofficial high school or
  • college transcript
  • Or HSE certification (GED, TASC, HiSET)

School and Program

  • Name of school: Flex Air
  • School code: 7920
  • Name of program: Zero to CFI
  • School location: California or Kansas
  • Start and end date

Military Experience

  • A copy of your DD214

Co-Borrower Information

  • Email address
  • Phone number (where co-borrower
  • wants to be reached)
  • Permanent mailing address that can
  • be verified with proper documentation
  • Utility bill, leasing agreement
  • Household income (approximate)
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number

Am I eligible for the Meritize Student Loan?

Many Flex Air Flight Training students apply for and receive student loans from Meritize. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or hold an Employment Authorization Document and meet Meritize’s underwriting requirements. 

Why we love Meritize

You are more than your credit score. That’s why Meritize Loans look beyond FICO and use previous academic or military achievements to enhance your credit evaluation and potentially improve your loan options.

What else does Meritize consider?

  • Academic History: Share what you’ve learned in school by providing your transcripts or HSE scores.
  • Military Background: Upload your military documents, such as your DD214, if you are a veteran.

Other things we love about Meritize:

  • Check your loan options in minutes without affecting your credit score
  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • Full deferment available for qualified applicants at Flex Air Flight Training
  • Free Career Services
  • 0.25% interest rate discount with autopay**
  • 3-month grace period

How do I apply for a loan?

Applying is easy! Students (or co-signers) can apply online. This takes approximately 15 minutes. Next, you will receive your credit approval. This includes your estimated monthly payment amounts, interest rates, and total number of payments to help select your repayment option. Follow these steps to apply now:

  1. First, complete the application form online for:
    1. California students
    2. Kansas students
  2. Provide requested information. We look forward to seeing you soon at Flex Air!
  3. Once your account is established, you will have login credentials to check in anytime.

What are the loan limits?

There is a maximum of $106,000 (California) and $103,000 (Kansas). Also, Meritize reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the requested amount.

Looking for additional information?

Check out the Meritize most frequently asked questions. Furthermore, Meritize has provided additional information that we’ve found helpful:

Contact information:

Students can call (833) 636-4848 or visit www.meritize.com


Stratus Financial

Another lender flight students rely on is Stratus Financial. Stratus Financial was founded by FAA Certificated Flight and Ground Instructors passionate about helping others achieve their aviation dreams. They know it’s not just about achieving your dreams (because they looked up in the sky every time they heard an airplane, too!), but funding your family’s dreams as well.

With Stratus, you’re not just a number. They look beyond the typical credit scores and see you as an aviator. Their goal is to set you up for success before you even apply with them. Stratus lending packages include:

  • A great rate to take you from zero to hero
  • Full financing for your entire flight training and more
  • Affordable payment options, including deferment for 12 months while you complete your training AND find a job
  • And, you can pay off your loan any time you want with no consequences or penalties whatsoever.

Stratus also provides resources for your aviation career:

  • Counseling with their team of flight and ground instructors to support you through flight training, check rides and even interviews with airlines
  • Resume reviewing, editing, and building
  • AMA phone calls with pilots in the 121 and 135 industry

The process is simple, and you can get started now. If you have limited credit or low income, you may need a co-borrower to apply with you.

Apply for Your Stratus Financial Flight School Loan


Are there other loan sources to pursue training for a career as an airline, cargo, or charter pilot?


Yes! Many other lenders support pilot training. For instance, you can contact your personal bank to see if they provide student loans. 

Similarly, there are certain lenders that offer students loans for specific criteria. In other words, lenders may have residency requirements. We have listed several options below that might work for you.

This can be a lot to consider, which is why Flex Air uniquely offers our Loan Copilot program for customized, personalized financing advice. We’ll look at your credit history and track down all the best deals in the lending industry… just for you!

American Airlines Loan Program:

American Airlines Credit Education Loan

  • Must be an eligible member of American Airlines Credit Union
  • Can borrow up to $40,000
  • Repayment up to 10 years, payments begin as soon as funds are disbursed through the credit union.
  • Call 1-800-533-0035

USA Specialty Lending for AOPA members

You must be an AOPA member, but you can join AOPA for $89 year.

  • Maximum loan amount: $20,000
  • 7 year maximum to repay, payments begin as soon as funds are disbursed
  • Inquire online or by calling 1-800-627-5263

Alaska Resident Loan Programs

Alaska Supplemental Education Loan (ASEL)

First of all, these loans are open to Alaskan residents or someone training in Alaska. Also, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.

Alaska Family Education Loan (FEL)

  • First of all, you must be an Alaska resident.
  • Loan limit of $10,000 per year
  • Aggregate limit of $56,000
  • Repayment term: 10 years

Florida Residents:

We Florida Financial (WeFly)

  • First of all, you must be Florida resident or a member with AOPA.
  • You can borrow up to $30,000.
  • There is a 6-year repayment term.
  • Inquire online or by calling 954-745-2400.

Veterans Educational Benefits

Use the GI Bill for flight training.

Use VR&E for flight training.


Are there scholarships available for flight school?

There are many organizations that offer scholarships to student pilots. 

Sign up here to get free access to our scholarship guide

Many students use scholarships for part of their tuition and student loans for the remainder.

Is this all worth it?

Airline pilot salaries have steadily increased along with benefits. Therefore, we encourage you to compare the cost of training and loan interest to potential earnings. Pilot salary potential is at an all-time high. Besides, most pilots become pilots for reasons other than a high salary. Certainly, it is up to you to decide your career path. In other words, do your research, and above all, follow your passion.

Student pilots should pick the best loan from a range of great options

There are many different loan features and terms to consider when financing your flight training through student loans. Some schools only offer a single loan option, with low approval rates. At Flex Air, student pilots pick from a range of options.

Here are a few examples of what student pilots should consider in a loan offering:

  1. Cosigner: Some student loans require a cosigner, which is someone who agrees to take on responsibility for the loan if you are unable to make payments. A cosigner can help you qualify for a loan or get a lower interest rate, but it's important to understand that the cosigner is equally responsible for paying off the loan.

  2. Interest rate: This is the percentage of the loan amount that you will be charged in interest. A lower interest rate means that you will pay less in interest over the life of the loan, while a higher interest rate means that you will pay more. Some student loans have fixed interest rates, which means that the rate will not change over time, while others have variable interest rates, which means that the rate can fluctuate based on market conditions.

  3. Repayment term: This is the length of time that you have to pay off the loan. A shorter repayment term will result in higher monthly payments, but you will pay less in interest overall. A longer repayment term will result in lower monthly payments, but you will pay more in interest overall.

  4. Repayment plan: There are several different repayment plans available for student loans, including standard repayment, graduated repayment, and extended repayment. Each plan has different terms and conditions, so it's important to carefully consider which plan is right for you.

  5. Deferment and forbearance: These options allow you to temporarily pause your loan payments if you are experiencing financial hardship or are returning to school. However, interest may still accrue on your loan during this time, which can increase the overall cost of the loan.


Big Investment for a Huge Payoff

An airline pilot career can yield over $10 million in income, but before you get the big reward you have to land that first airline pilot job.

Financing your training through student loans can be a great way to pay for flight school, but it's important to understand the risks and benefits before making a decision.

One of the biggest benefits of student loans is that they allow you to pay for your flight training now and pay off the loan over time. This can be especially helpful if you don't have the savings or income to pay for school upfront. Student loans can also help you afford a higher quality, accelerated training program, instead of paying for training "a la carte" over many years while working part-time.

However, there are also risks associated with student loans. One of the biggest risks is the potential for high levels of debt. If you borrow a large amount of money for your flight training, you may find yourself with a significant amount of debt after you graduate. This can be a burden, particularly if you end up in a low-paying, non-flying job or are struggling with the airline recruiting and interview process. This risk highlights the importance of a resume, interview, and networking skills for early career pilots.

Another risk of student loans is the potential for high interest rates. Some student loans have relatively low interest rates, but others can be quite high, which can make it more difficult to pay off the loan.


Preflight Planning is Important!

It's important to carefully review all of the loan terms and conditions before taking out a student loan. Make sure to ask questions and get clarification on any terms or conditions that you don't understand.

Financing your flight training through student loans can be a helpful way to pay for school, but it's important to carefully consider the risks and benefits before making a decision. Make sure to research the different loan options available and understand the terms of any loan you take out. It's also a good idea to create a budget and a plan for paying off your loans after you finish training.

Our career mentors are ready to help!

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