Aviation Scholarships

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Where to Find Aviation Scholarships

Do you need financial help to make a dream of being a pilot or working in the aviation industry come true? Aviation scholarships cover many areas not limited to pilot training.

Some scholarships may help finance a degree leading to an aviation profession. Plane maintenance, airport management and avionics to list a few.

Others may help offset costs of getting a pilot license. Or of pursuing a specific certification. One example is the William M. Fanning Maintenance Scholarship. It is a $2,500 award from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

Who are aviation scholarships for?

If the grantor is an organization, you may need to be a current member. Or you may need to show that you are a working professional in business aviation. This includes pilots, maintenance professionals, schedulers, dispatchers, flight attendants and flight technicians.

There are also a wide range of scholarships for high school and college students. There are degrees in areas such as:

  • Aviation maintenance
  • Aeronautical science
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Air traffic management
  • Aviation business administration

If this is your goal, expect to furnish grades. Eligibility may also depend on financial need and how well you express your goals in an essay.

Is there any scholarship for pilot training?

The AOPA is one source for private pilot training scholarships. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association pilot scholarships may offset costs of training.

To stand out as a candidate, you need to show how you merit the award. Aviation focused leadership activities and volunteering since freshman year may help.

Flight school scholarships

One source for aviation scholarships are colleges with flight schools. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies many civilian flight schools.

Some are small fixed base operators (FBO). Others are universities with aviation science programs. There are also colleges and universities that offer pilot training. These may be part of a 2- or 4-year aviation degree.

One example is Western Michigan University. They have a large college of aviation. Students here can pursue a bachelor’s degree in aviation flight science and other areas. The Alan H. Conklin Business Aviation Management Scholarship is one to apply for.

Another is available at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. The Lawrence Ginocchio Scholarship offers five awards each year. Recipients get $4,500 to help pay for their education. Applicants usually need to submit grades, references and an essay.

Women in aviation scholarships

Women in Aviation International is also a major provider of scholarships. These awards are for both men and women in aviation. In 2019, they awarded $875,500 to 156 recipients. They offer flight training scholarships and others that fund a college degree.

Another helpful resource for women is the 99’s. An international association of pilots, they offer several scholarships too. These cover

  • Initial flight training
  • Type rating
  • Academic scholarship
  • Technical training
  • Emergency maneuver training

The 99s also offers a research grant and a New Pilot award. You’ll need a recommendation from a chapter to apply.

Aviation Scholarships and Why They’re a Popular Choice

Aviation scholarships are a popular choice for aspiring pilots. If your goal is to become an airline pilot, you usually need a bachelor's degree in any subject. Along with the degree, you need a commercial pilot’s license and an ATP certificate from the FAA.

Grants and scholarships are one way to offset costs of tuition, books and flying expenses

The average in-state cost of attending aviation school is $5,861. If you plan to attend an out of state school, the average tuition is $28,746.

This can seem steep and out of reach given the competition for jobs. While pilots retire every year, growth in the industry is on a slow climb. There should be about 4% more jobs on the market by 2026.

But those who do secure jobs may find they pay well. At last check, the average annual salary for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $140,340.

Can You Get a Pell Grant for Flight School?

Federal funding may or may not be available for flight school. To receive a Federal Pell Grant, you must attend an accredited school.

Colleges with regional or national accreditation take part in federal aid programs. So, if you attend a pilot training program at an accredited flight school, you may be eligible for the Pell Grant.

If this is the case, you start by filling out a FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid figures out how much money you are eligible to get.

Unlike a loan, you do not have to pay this money back. But you need to abide by the terms.

For students attending an unaccredited flight school, private scholarships and loans are options.

Top Aviation Scholarships for 2019

The field of aviation is exciting. To help you succeed, there are many scholarships to apply to. These top aviation scholarships cover pilot training and degrees in aviation. Apply in 2019 to get your dreams off the ground.

AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarship

The AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarship is available for U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent residents AOPA members seeking ratings or certificates.

Total: $10000 Awards:  10
Deadline:  March 1

Reno High Sierra Chapter Ninety-Nines Advanced Rating Scholarship

U.S. female pilots seeking advanced rating are eligible for this award. Students must reside within 99 nautical miles of Reno Tahoe International Airport.

Total: $3500 Awards:  1
Deadline:  March 14

Reno High Sierra Chapter Ninety-Nines Private Pilot License Scholarship

Female student pilots who have flown solo by the application deadline are eligible to apply for this award.

Total: $2000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  March 14

National Aviation Explorer Scholarships

The National Aviation Exploring Committee supports projects designed to help young people pursue a career in aviation. They award individual scholarships between $5,000 and $10,000 annually. These awards recognize excellence in Aviation Explorers studying the skills and technology needed in the field of aviation. If scholarship funds are used for training in the avionics, pilot, maintenance or management categories, the flight training must be provided by the FAA Approved Part 141 and Part 61 sc...

Total: $10000 Awards:  5
Deadline:  March 31

Air Line Pilots Association Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. or Canadian undergraduate students who have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students must be the dependent of a medically retired, long-term disabled, or deceased ALPA member.

Total: $3000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  April 1

Dan L. Meisinger, Sr. Memorial Learn to Fly Scholarship

This award is for college sophomores, juniors and/or seniors who are currently enrolled in an aviation program and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Preference is given to residents of Kansas, Missouri or Illinois.

Total: $2500 Awards:  1
Deadline:  November 27

Tom Taylor Memorial Scholarship to Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

This scholarship is available for international and U.S. high school seniors who desire to pursue an associate's degree in applied science or a diploma in aviation maintenance technology at NEC Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $35000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  April 01

Teacher Flight Training Scholarship

The Teacher Flight Training Scholarship is provided by AOPA and awarded to flight instructors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Total: $10000 Awards:  20
Deadline:  April 02

You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarship

The AOPA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of AOPA. They support a number of flight training scholarships. These scholarships help student pilots to succeed and ease the financial burden of flight training. This scholarship program is a part of the AOPA You Can Fly program, a collection of initiatives that aim to build a larger, more vibrant pilot community.

Total: $10000 Awards:  80
Deadline:  April 02

American Airlines Veteran's Initiative Scholarship

This scholarship is open to military veterans who are pursuing aviation/aeronautical education or training. Candidates will be evaluated on achievements, teamwork, leadership skills, motivation, and community service involvement.

Total: $5000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  November 12

Airbus Leadership Grant

The Airbus Leadership Grant is available to an undergraduate student with sophomore standing or higher and a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must be majoring in an aviation-related field, be members of Women in Aviation, International, and have demonstrated leadership ability.

Total: $5000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  November 12

American Airlines Aircraft Maintenance Technician Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. students who are currently enrolled in an aviation maintenance technician program (A&P) or a degree in aviation maintenance technology. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $5000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  November 12