SECA: Access to finance in the US – Helping aspiring pilots overcome this hurdle
Ahead of the Student Education and Careers in Aviation (SECA) event taking place at WATS in Orlando this year, Savannah Folan, Financial Aid Administrator at L3 Commercial Training Solutions (L3 CTS), walks us through the ways in which the company can help students finance their studies.
Widening access to pilot training for those who demonstrate the talent, passion and motivation is important to the commercial aviation industry in the United States. Currently, those seeking the thrill of flying are faced with a large hurdle: finances. By helping to alleviate the stress of this issue, L3 hopes to help reduce the pilot shortage with a higher standard of well-rounded pilots.
L3 CTS appreciates that raising the required funds for training can be a particularly significant hurdle. We are committed to supporting aspiring pilots as they overcome the challenge of gaining access to finances for training. This support starts at the very beginning of each student’s journey, where our dedicated team of Airline Pilot Career Advisors provides their counsel and expertise. Our advisors help students choose and apply for the most suitable loans and funding options on a case-by-case basis, guiding each student throughout the entire process.
The most accessible loan currently available to students in the US is the Fort Morgan State Bank Private Loan, which is exclusive to L3 Airline Academy cadets. L3 has a partnership with the Fort Morgan State Bank which allows students to borrow up to 80% of the cost of their training program. Upon completion of training, this loan is to be repaid over a 20 year period.
Another popular loan option is the Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Parents. Parents of dependent students have the opportunity to apply for this loan, which can cover up to 100% of the cost of the students training program. The repayment term is 25 years with fixed interest rates. This loan is only available if you are a dependent student; which is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on a student’s dependency status there are other supplementary federal loans and grants that help to fund training.
Navigating through the application process for these loans can be complex for someone with no experience doing so. Our career advisors can help each student navigate this process, providing advice and support the entire way. Our team, for example, often advises aspiring pilots to submit their private loan applications about two months before they would like to begin training. This allows an appropriate amount of time to complete credit checks and to handle any bank issues that may arise.
Often, passing a credit check can be a major obstacle for students. The criteria for loan approval requires students to have both strict credit scores and a high income level. In order to achieve this the student must have an existing job and positive credit rating; which is particularly difficult for younger students who are applying straight after High-School or University. In addition to these complications, we do not want our students working while they are attending the Academy to allow them to fully focus on their training. L3 believes that a relaxation on the credit check criteria for private loans would help to strengthen the appeal to the industry and improve the accessibility of funding options.
With a lack of viable alternative loans and funding gaps existing, L3 offers a number of scholarship to provide deserving students with additional funding support. Our scholarships include:
• The L3 Airline Academy Veterans Scholarship: Encouraging and helping military veterans to pursue a career in commercial airline flying
• The L3 Airline Academy Women Aviators Scholarship: Encouraging and helping females to pursue a career in commercial airline flying
• The L3 Airline Academy High School Senior Merit Scholarship: providing financial support to the most talented and deserving high school graduates
• The L3 Airline Academy Seasonal Scholarship: providing support to aspiring commercial airline pilots. Only available during specific start dates.
Although access to finance can be a significant hurdle, there are several viable options to access financial support if you are considering beginning a career as a commercial airline pilot in the US. By working with training providers to better understand which options are most suitable, you too can overcome this hurdle and begin your long and rewarding career as a commercial pilot. To get started, call us at 1800UCANFLY.