How to Pay for Flight School

It’s no secret that getting certified to fly is not a cheap endeavor. When initially hearing the total cost of flight school, it is common for your mind to race and to feel a bit overwhelmed. How am I going to pay for this? Is it worth it? The good news is, you have some options, and YES it is worth it. Paying for flight school is an investment in your future. If you are looking into flight careers, you will see that in a few years’ time, you can make back what you invested, and that should be reassuring! We will go more into career options in a later post, but for now, let’s get to your payment options.

Here at Leading Edge Aviation, you have two ways to approach your training:

  1. Study directly at Leading Edge: You will receive your ground and flight training with LEA instructors and earn your flight ratings.
  2. Attend the Community College (COCC) here in Bend, and pursue an AS degree in aviation: Leading Edge will be your flight provider, however, you will also attend the college and earn a degree while you learn to fly!

While Option One does not leave room for much financial assistance, you do have a few routes you could take:

  • Local Bank or Credit Union: This option may be the best option for you if you decide to go directly through Leading Edge Aviation. Approval for these loans is based on your credit score and your debt-to-income ration. Private lenders may be able to give a potential borrower enough to complete our aviation program.
  • AOPA Flight Financing: These funds can be used for everything from starting and finishing primary training to advanced training, such as instrument training or obtaining a commercial certificate. Unique features of AOPA flight training financing include the ability to borrow up to $100,000 over a 24 to 84-month period with no money down, no loan minimum, and minimal paperwork. Their website is
  • Pilot Finance: These are loans for students who fly only part time and just need a little bit of additional funding to complete the rating they are working on. The loan amounts are small, but helpful for some students. Their website is This loan will not work for students who want to go through the whole flight program.

The best option, if you need financial aid for flight training, is going through Central Oregon Community College (COCC). Through COCC you could be eligible for federal student loans. To receive federal financial aid for flight training, you must enroll in Central Oregon Community College (COCC). Going through this program would allow you to utilize federal funding to help complete the program.

  • Federal Funding: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): When you apply for federal funding they will process the information to see if you qualify for grants and scholarships which is free money. You can find the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at The application is free to complete and does not obligate you to participate in student loans. Federal student loans often have better terms and conditions than Alternative Education Loans.
  • Scholarships: Scholarships are available through private organization and can help cover some of your educational expenses. COCC has more information regarding general scholarship opportunities on COCC’s website at In addition, there are many scholarship opportunities specific to aviation. For more information, please go to

You will not be able to use federal funding alone. You will most likely need to apply for an alternative loan.

Alternative Loan:  Private Loans are offered by private lending institutions and are not guaranteed by the federal government. These funds are available to credit and non-credit students who may not be eligible for federal financial aid or who may need to bridge the gap between the actual cost of education and their federal financial aid. You will go directly to a lender to apply for these loans. The lender will interpret credit history and other determining factors to see the student is eligible. Some may require that you obtain a cosigner before approving your loan.

The lenders students choose are usually Sallie Mae, and CU Student loans. Here is the link to COCC’s alternative loan website

We encourage students to exhaust all other financial resources such as grants and student loans by applying for the Free application for Federal Student Aid. Scholarships may also be an alternative resource before deciding to apply for Alternative Loans.

We understand that paying for flight training can be a daunting task, but we also know that pursuing a career in aviation is an incredibly rewarding path and worth every piece of paperwork. We help walk our students, step-by-step, through the process of enrolling to make sure that they are prepared to focus on what matters at the end of the day: becoming a pilot.