Scholarships for Pilot Training and Other Aviation Careers

Woman Pilot Standing Next to an Airplane
•••

Rich Legg / Getty Images

There's no doubt about it, flight training is expensive. A private pilot certificate alone will probably cost from $12,000 to $20,000, depending on a number of factors, including location, quality of instruction, and how quickly you complete your training.

Prospective pilots and people pursuing other aviation-related careers can lower their out-of-pocket costs by obtaining scholarships. No matter what type of job you're interested in obtaining or the way you plan to prepare for it, there's probably a scholarship available for you. 

Scholarships for Non-Collegiate Pilot Training

  1. AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarships are awarded to 80 high school students in the amount of $10,000 each. This scholarship is to be used for expenses incurred in the pursuit of a primary pilot certificate—either a private, sport, or recreational pilot certificate.
  2. AOPA Teacher Flight Training Scholarships are awarded to as many as 20 teachers who are full-time employees of a school or school system that prepares students for aviation-related careers. The scholarship is worth $10,000 and is to be used to pursue a primary pilot certificate.
  3. AOPA Primary Flight Training Scholarships are awarded in amounts of $2,500-$7,500 each to AOPA members who are at least 16 years old. The scholarship can be applied toward a primary pilot certificate.
  4. AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarships are awarded in amounts of $3,000-$10,000 each to AOPA members who will apply them toward achieving the following ratings or certificates: instrument, commercial, certified flight instructor, certified flight instructor–instrument, or multi-engine instructor.
  1. Flight Training Scholarships are to be put toward flight training and provide awards of at least $5,000 each.
  2. Post-Secondary Scholarships are for college students who wish to pursue a career in aviation and are also awarded in amounts of at least $5,000 each.
  3. Air-Academy Camperships pay varying amounts—up to full tuition—toward attending the EAA Air Academy camps in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
  • Women in Aviation International: This nonprofit organization offers the largest number of scholarships for both women and men in aviation. Scholarships pertain to many different aviation-related careers, including engine maintenance and flight instruction. Applicants must be a member of WAI, and some scholarships are open only to women applicants.

Scholarships for Collegiate Flight Training Programs

  • Aviation Distributors and Manufacturers Association: ADMA offers a scholarship for either a third-year student enrolled in a four-year program at an accredited institution with a major in aviation management or a professional pilot program or a first-year student in an aviation and piloting program at an accredited two-year institution. So long as recipients continue to meet the eligibility requirements, the scholarships are intended to be given for two years. ADMA also offers a scholarship to an aviation educational institution that focuses on youth education. The institution may be an after-school or summer program.
  • NBAA: The National Business Aviation Association Charities program awards more than $100,000 in tuition-reimbursement scholarships to students pursuing careers in business aviation and an almost equal amount of money to those who already have business aviation careers to pursue additional education or training.
  • Women in Aviation International: In addition to non-collegiate awards, WAI also has many scholarships for students in a university flight training program. Some scholarships are applied toward tuition, and some can be used for flight fees. As with the non-collegiate programs, some scholarships are open to women and men and some are open only to women.

Scholarships for Minorities

  • National Gay Pilots Association: This organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusion in aviation offers a variety of scholarships with different criteria. The scholarships are open to pilots of any sexual orientation or gender identity, but applicants must be a member of the NGPA and be able to show their support and advocacy for the LGBT community.
  • The 99s: The 99s is an international society of women pilots that received its name in 1930 after the number of charter members in the group. The organization's Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Fund offers five different scholarships:
  1. The Flight Training Scholarship provides as much as $20,000 to cover a pilot training course, certificate, rating, or type rating.
  2. The Academic Scholarship offers as much as $10,000 annually for a college degree—from associate's to doctorate—related to aviation or aerospace.
  3. The Technical Training Scholarship provides as much as $20,000 toward completion of an aviation or aerospace technical training or certification course.
  4. The Vicki Cruse Memorial Scholarship for Emergency Maneuver Training covers the entire cost of a program of spin and emergency maneuver training that includes some instruction in aerobatics.
  5. The Kitty Houghton Memorial Scholarship provides funds for flight training or education in an aviation-related field of study to a woman from a country with an emerging economy. Applicants may not be from a country that belongs to the Group of Twenty.

The requirements for each of the scholarships vary, but applicants for the first three scholarships must have been a member of The 99s for at least one year as of January 1 of the scholarship year.

  • Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals: The OBAP offers hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships annually to be used for tuition for an aviation-related college program or further aviation-related training for aspiring aerospace professionals.
  • Women in Aviation International: For women in the aviation industry, WAI is the best place to go for scholarship money.