How to be a student pilot and still eat.
Flight training is expensive and unfortunately trying to fit aviation into student financing programs is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. But don’t give up, there are lots of ways to help cover the costs of getting your license.
1.) Train Smarter
Because you pay by the hour, the single best way to control your overall costs is to make sure you are maximizing your training potential every single flight. Do your homework, be an engaged student, ask all the questions you can think of, and never underestimate the amount of work you will do on the ground. Chat with fellow pilots about their experiences, learn from their mistakes and be inspired by their pathway. Finally, if at all possible try to go all in, fly as often as you can afford and try to immerse yourself in the experience. Generally, the faster you complete your training, the less you will spend overall.
2..) Scholarships and Bursaries
There are lots of options for scholarships in the aviation industry but you need to watch that the scholarships you are applying for will cover flight training. There are some aviation specific scholarships, usually sponsored by local flying clubs, pilot associations or companies involved in the industry. Other scholarships may also be able to be applied to flight training, as long as they can be applied towards vocational training. As with most scholarships, be prepared to apply for anything you can find. Often the more obscure ones don’t get many applicants and you can increase your chances of winning them. Keep a close eye on our Facebook page, scholarships will be shared there whenever they are available.
There are many organizations that are willing to sponsor a student for some or all of their flight training. These organizations include many Indigenous groups, the military, groups that promote the advancement of minorities in STEM fields and fly- in communities depending on pilots for their day to day lives. Make sure to ask around to see if there is a program that supports students that you may qualify for, as every little bit helps. While many airlines have moved away from direct sponsorship of students, as recovery from Covid-19 collides with the effects of long term pilot shortages we may begin to see a return of this type of finding as well.
BFC is an accredited Private Vocational Institution and because of that, students may be eligible to use RESPs to help finance their education. You will need a letter of acceptance to take to the account administrator so make sure to apply early.
5.) Traditional Student Aid
Commercial flight training does qualify for funding under the Manitoba Student Aid Program but be warned the program cap is quite low. You will need your letter of acceptance from your school, as well as your last year’s tax return and your banking information. If you are a dependent student or are married or living common law you will also need your parents or spouse’s previous years tax returns as well. Manitoba Student Aid has more information directly on their website at www.edu.gov.mb.ca/msa/
6.) Personal Loans and Student Lines of Credit
Flight training is still career education and Student lines of credit are a fantastic option for students looking for a little (or a lot) of help financing their futures. These student lines of credit can be used to cover anything from books to flight time to living expenses and can make flight training just a little more affordable without resorting to heavy credit card debt. Brandon Flight Centre has partnered with Fusion Credit unition to help streamline the approval process and get you in the air faster. However that is not your only option for lines of credit. Feel free to talk to your own financial institution about options, particularly if you already have a long standing relationship with them. You will need a letter of acceptance from us and usually a cost breakdown at a minimum but feel free to have your financial institution call us directly to discuss your needs if they have any questions. Once they understand the process and the career paths its usually a little easier to get them to sign off.
7.) Flexible training schedules
When all else fails there is always the option to train part time. While it may cost you a little more over the course of the program as you spend more time reviewing material it does give you the ability to continue to work either full or part time while you train. Alternatively, take advantage of the longer daylight hours during the summer to train before or after work. Those flexible scheduling options can make training just a little more attainable and get you started on your dream career a little bit sooner.
Other financial tips:
Did you know that you can claim a portion of your tuition back on your taxes if you are enrolled in a commercial license program? If you are a commercial student, you will be provided with a T2202 form at the end of February to claim your tuition. If you are a private student but intend to pursue commercial training, make sure to let us know. You may also claim a portion of your tuition, but only if you sign a declaration of intent stating that you will be enrolling in a commercial program in the future.
Finally, take advantages of the perks of being a student. Sign up for a Student Price Card or ask retailers if they offer discounts for students. Take advantage of the discounts while you can.