Learn About Scholarships for Pilot Training

Woman Pilot Standing Next to an Airplane
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There's no doubt about it -- flight training is expensive. A private pilot certificate alone can cost between $4,000-$15,000 dollars, depending on a number of factors, including location, quality of instruction, and how quickly your training is completed.

If you're like most pilots, it's likely that you will run out of money at some point during your training. But don't give up! There are resources out there to help out - if you look hard enough.

From private pilots to airline transport pilots, traditional Part 61 flight students to collegiate flight students, there are scholarships out there for everyone. These scholarships can be difficult to find, though, so I've outlined a few great places to start your search.

Scholarships for Non-Collegiate Pilot Training

  • AOPAThe Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has long been one of the most influential general aviation organizations out there. As an industry advocate for general aviation, AOPA provides a variety of services and information to pilots and aircraft owners at all levels. To help promote general aviation, AOPA supplies scholarships to students earning a recreational, sport, or private pilot license. The number and amounts of scholarships vary from year to year but range from $3,000-5,000. Scholarships are based on merit, goals, and dedication to flight training.
  • EAA Young EaglesThe Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program has been helping young people achieve their dreams of flight for years. The Young Eagles program offers a multitude of scholarships to its members to put toward flight training or toward tuition for EAA Air Academy Sessions. Scholarship types and amounts vary, and are given to both pre- and post-high school students with a desire to learn to fly and/or begin a career in aviation.
  • Women in AviationNot just for women, Women in Aviation, International offers the largest number of scholarships for both men and women in aviation. Scholarships range from initial flight training to airline transport training. In the past, many airlines have offered type rating scholarships as well as job offers to qualified candidates. Whether you're just beginning your flight training or looking to further your career, WAI is sure to have a scholarship for you.

    Scholarships for Collegiate Flight Training Programs

    • Women in AviationIn addition to non-collegiate awards, WAI also has many scholarships for students in a university flight training program. These scholarships can sometimes be used to assist with tuition; other times, they can be used toward flight fees. Men, don't worry- not all scholarships are reserved strictly for women.
    • Aviation Distributors and Manufacturers AssociationADMA offers at least one scholarship for third- or fourth-year university students seeking a professional pilot or business management undergraduate degree. Selection is based on merit, letters of recommendation and an essay.
    • NBAA: The National Business Aviation Association is a highly-regarded organization in the business sector of the aviation industry. The organization provides at least one scholarship for a student in an aviation-related degree program at an NBAA-approved college or university. While there is an emphasis on business aviation, general aviation applicants may apply.

    Scholarships for Minorities

    • Women in AviationWomen in Aviation, International offers the highest amount of scholarships to women of any aviation organization. For women in the aviation industry, WAI is the best place to go for scholarship money.
    • The 99sThe 99s is an international society of women pilots, and the organization has offered scholarships to members since 1941. There are five different scholarships you can apply for: initial flight training, type rating, academic scholarship, technical training and emergency maneuver training. The 99s also offers a research grant and a New Pilot award. A recommendation from the chapter is needed to apply.
    • National Gay Pilot AssociationThe NGPA offers scholarships to prospective pilots that have demonstrated support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in some way. Scholarship winners are not chosen based on sexual orientation but are chosen against a set of criteria including aviation achievements, potential, motivation, teamwork, and leadership, among others. There is one scholarship valued at $6,000 and typically two $3,000 scholarships, but the amounts and types vary based on funding.
    • Organization of Black Aerospace ProfessionalsThe OBAP provides a number of scholarship opportunities to help airline-oriented pilots. You must already have a private pilot license to apply for flight scholarships and are evaluated on an essay submission, letters of recommendation, professional development, and a face-to-face interview. Participation in OBAP is weighed heavily, also. Membership is not limited based on ethnicity; anyone that believes in the mission of OBAP may join.