If someone can't afford to pay for flight training directly, is it possible to get commercial flight training with financial aid as part of a college degree?

For the UK answer, see: Do any UK universities include PPL/Commercial flight training as part of an aviation degree?

  • $\begingroup$ ERAU's cost calculator estimates $120,000 for tuition, books, room and board over 4 years and around 90,000 for flight training. That is 210,000 in student loans and the monthly payment wont be pretty, especially as the only aviation job open to you when you walk out the door is likely instructing until you have the experience for 135 or 121 operations. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 19:46

1 Answer 1


In the US, there are 2 ways to become a certificated civilian pilot: Part 61 and Part 141.

Part 61 is done in informal classes and flights at a local flight school.

Part 141 is a professional pilot training program, with uniforms, classrooms, a full-time staff, and a uniform fleet of aircraft.

There are numerous US universities that offer bachelors' degrees using a part 141 program. You can find a list of such programs here.

Furthermore, many of these schools, such as Embry-Riddle, take the FAFSA, which is the process for obtaining financial aid as for any other program.

After graduating from one of these programs, you will have obtained all the training necessary to work as a flight instructor, or as a commercial pilot under Part 119

  • Private Pilot Single Engine
  • Instrument Pilot Single and Multi-Engine
  • Commercial Pilot Single and Multi-Engine
  • Flight Instructor Single Engine
  • Flight Instructor Instrument
  • Multi-Engine Flight Instructor

You will have also earned either an Associates or Bachelors degree, usually in something like Aviation Engineering or Aviation Operations.

You will not, however, have flown enough hours to get a job flying air taxi or cargo under Part 135, which requires 500 hours to be the pilot-in-command.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A part 61 program can be quite professional, you dont need to be 141 to have the things you use to describe it. Part 141 is a structured, approved curriculum that allows certain things 61 does not and some subtle differences in requirements. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ No you don't, but that's the way it is. And this is a question about university programs, which are all 141 $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Its also worth mentioning a university degree + flight training program will likely cost more than either a degree or flight training alone costs combined. If you cannot pay for training can you afford the massive student loan debt you'll incur in such a program? $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Somebody must be going into these programs. I don't think it's the 1%ers $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 22:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ no, not only 1%ers. It was also the first officers I flew with that told me of their struggles paying off their loans on first and second year FO pay and wishing they'd gone a different route. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 22:24

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