6 Flight School Scholarships to Kickstart Your Training

6 Flight School Scholarships to Kickstart Your Training

It’s no secret that flight training is expensive. Even as you’re first starting as a student pilot, you may have to pay sky-high (no pun intended) prices for an airplane that has seen better days. However, funding is the last thing that should be a barrier to entry when it comes to aviation. Regardless of your background or specific goals as a pilot, you should have an opportunity to explore the world from the air and learn a new, incredible skill.

Fortunately, many organizations agree and offer scholarship funds to help pay for flight training. If you spend time researching your options, you will be able to find opportunities suited to your goals. Some scholarships have specific requirements to garner interest in aviation from individuals with skillsets or perspectives that are underrepresented in the industry. 

Below are just a few of the various scholarships you can pursue to help you pay for your flight training.

1. Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Flight Training Scholarships

Who Should Apply

EAA offers twelve or more scholarships each year to help fund various stages of flight training. The organization "invites those who are interested in pursuing flight or a career in aviation or aviation related/STEM fields" to apply for scholarships.

When to Apply

Deadlines vary by scholarship type. Generally, EAA utilizes application periods similar to the following:

  • Flight Training Scholarships: March 1 - June 1 (for those starting flight training July 1 - December 31)
  • Flight Training Scholarships: September 1 - November 1 (for those starting flight training January 1 - June 30 of the following year)
  • Post-Secondary Scholarships: November 15 - January 31

Where to Apply

The EAA website

Requirements

Vary based on scholarship. All flight training scholarships must be used within one year from the date of award. Accordingly, applicants must be eligible for the flight training process when they submit their applications. Unlike many organizations, EAA does not require membership to be eligibile for a scholarship. Individuals from all coutries are encouraged to apply, but flight training scholarships must be used at a flight school in the United States. 

Scholarship Awards

Vary based on scholarship. Generally, EAA provides scholarships that have a minimum award of $5,000. In total, the organization awards over $1 million in scholarships each year.

Related Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Your Student Pilot Medical Certificate

2. AAERO Aviation Scholarship Program

Who Should Apply

Aspiring aviators who have not yet obtained a private pilot’s license (PPL), but—should they be selected—can finish a program within 12 months

When to Apply

Scholarships open in May of each year.

Where to Apply

The AAERO website

Requirements

Applicants must be located in the United States, over the age of 18, have a student pilot certificate, and have selected a flight school and/or Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) for their training. Successful applicants can demonstrate their passion for aviation and their ability to complete primary pilot training within 12 months of applying for the program. 

Scholarship Awards

$1,000 - $2,500

Checklist for Choosing a Flight School

3. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Flight Training Scholarships

Who Should Apply

AOPA offers four different scholarships: the High School Flight Training Scholarship for current high school students, the Teacher Flight Training Scholarship for current high school teachers and administrators, the Primary Flight Training Scholarship for aspiring aviators who are over the age of 16, and the Advanced Rating Scholarship for pilots who are seeking an advanced rating or certificate (instrument, commercial, Certified Flight Instructor [CFI], Certified Flight Instructor - Instrument [CFII], or Multi-Engine - Instructor [MEI]).

When to Apply

Between early January and mid-March of each year

Where to Apply

The AOPA website

Requirements

Vary by scholarship. Generally, successful applicants have not yet completed an FAA practical exam for the license or rating they’re seeking, are members of AOPA, and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Here are the specific requirements for each scholarship.

AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarship

An applicant must meet the following criteria to receive an AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarship:

  • Current member of AOPA (both during the application process and when the scholarship is awarded). Applicants who are not yet AOPA members are encouraged to take advantage of the free AOPA AV8RS membership for high school students or the free 6-month membership for student pilots.
  • Current high school student (15 to 18 years old)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75
  • Parent or guardian approval (if under the age of 18)
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Has not completed a primary pilot training certificate (sport, recreational, glider, or private pilot) at the time of application
  • Able to complete a solo flight or achieve a primary pilot certificate within one year of receiving the scholarship

AOPA Teacher Flight Training Scholarship

An applicant must meet the following criteria to receive an AOPA Teacher Flight Training Scholarship:

  • High School Aviation Teacher With StudentCurrent member of AOPA (both during the application process and when the scholarship is awarded). Applicants who are not yet AOPA members are encouraged to take advantage of the free 6-month membership for student pilots
  • Current, paid full-time employee of a school or school system
  • Current teacher of record for students or direct supervisor over curriculum and instruction
  • Can provide a letter from the school verifying employment status for the current school year, and have a district administrator sign it. If an applicant is a district administrator, he/she must have another administrator in the same school system sign the letter.
  • Currently provides or teaches the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum to teachers or students in preparation for a future in aviation
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Has not completed an FAA checkride for a primary pilot certificate at the time of application

AOPA Primary Training Scholarship

An applicant must meet the following criteria to receive an AOPA Primary Training Scholarship:

  • Current member of AOPA (both during the application process and when the scholarship is awarded). Applicants who are not yet AOPA members are encouraged to take advantage of the free 6-month membership for student pilots. 
  • At least 16 years of age by the time the application closes
  • Holds a current FAA Student Pilot Certificate at the time of the application or has a pending certificate application in IACRA 
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Has not completed the FAA practical test at the time of application

AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarship

An applicant must meet the following criteria to receive an AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarship:

  • Current paid member of AOPA at the time of the application and when the scholarship is awarded
  • Meets the minimum age requirement for the desired rating or certificate by the application close date. The age requirements are as follows:
    • Instrument Rating - 17
    • Commercial Rating - 18
    • CFI - 18
    • CFII - 18
    • MEI - 18
  • Holds at least an FAA Private Pilot Certificate at the time of the application
  • Has not completed the FAA practical test/checkride for the desired rating at the time of the application
  • Is either a newly certificated private pilot (within the last 24 calendar months) or has completed a flight review per 14CFR 61.56
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Scholarship Awards

The amount awarded also varies by scholarship. AOPA awarded the following amounts to each scholarship winner in 2020:

  • High School Flight Training Scholarship - $10,000
  • Teacher Flight Training Scholarship - $10,000
  • Primary Flight Training Scholarship - $2,500 - $7,500
  • Advanced Rating Scholarship - $3,000 - $10,000

4. Women in Aviation International Scholarships

Who Should Apply

Women in Aviation International (WAI) offers and facilitates a number of scholarship opportunities for women of all ages and backgrounds. Current scholarship opportunities aim to help fund training for private pilot, instrument rating, CFI, CFII, MEI, and more (including maintenance training, engineering, space engineering, space flight, and drones). 

When to Apply

Scholarships must be submitted by November each year to be awarded at the Annual International Women in Aviation Conference the following March. 

Where to Apply

The WAI website

Requirements

Vary based on scholarship. All applicants must be a member of Women in Aviation International by November of the year they are submitting the application.  

Scholarship Awards

Amounts vary by scholarship. In 2020, WAI awarded 151 scholarships valued at $831,365.

 

5. The Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarships & Awards

Who Should Apply

Women who wish to pursue a primary pilot certificate, an advanced rating, or courses in specialized branches in aviation. Details vary for each chapter of the 99s (which award the scholarships).

When to Apply

All applications are available by September of each year, but applicants are encouraged to contact their local 99s chapter for specific details.

Where to Apply

Chapter websites for the 99s

Requirements

Vary based on scholarship and location. Check with your local chapter of the 99s. 

Scholarship Awards

Vary based on scholarship and location. Check with your local chapter of the 99s. 

6. National Aviation Explorer Scholarships

Who Should Apply

Any individual who is currenty registered and active in an Aviation Explorer post, one of the career-oriented programs offered by Learning for Life (a branch of the Boy Scouts of America).

When to Apply

Generally, application submissions are due at the end of March each year.

Where to Apply

The Exploring website

Requirements

Vary by scholarship. All applicants must be registered and active in an Aviation Explorer post. If under 18 years of age, applicants must obtain a signature from a parent or guardian. If funds will be used for training in the pilot, avionics, maintenance, or management categories, "the flight training must be provided by the FAA Approved Part 141 and Part 61 school or through an accredited college or university in pursuit of a degree leading to an aviation profession."

Scholarship Awards

Amounts vary between $2,000 and $20,000, depending on the scholarship. 

The scholarships above are only a few of the numerous opportunities available to fund your training at a flight school. Actively checking FAA and scholarship websites will give you the best opportunity to find openings as soon as available. 

Though just a portion of the funds you will need for flight training, these scholarships will help you get started at flight school and allow you to explore the possibilities in the aviation world. For more help funding your flight training, check out the loan options you have for flight school and other ways to reduce the cost of flight school

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Redbird GIFT