The Ultimate Guide to Flight Schools Accepting the GI Bill: Unlocking Educational Opportunities for Veterans
VA education benefits can help pay for flight training. Did you know you can use the GI Bill® or the Fry Scholarship to attend VA-approved flight schools? Whether you are using the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post-9/11 GI Bill, there are options for you to get help to attend flight school at an approved facility.
VA-Approved Flight Training
You can use your GI Bill to pay for flight training, provided you meet certain requirements.
All of these must be true to qualify according to VA.gov:
- You must qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill, and
- You must have a private pilot’s license, and
- Have a second-class medical certificate valid for second-class privileges – or a first-class medical certificate if you want to get the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.
Unfortunately, at press time, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program can not be used to pay for flight training. However, the Fry Scholarship may be used to pay for approved flight training courses.
Flight Training Benefits Under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
You will be reimbursed for 60% of the approved fees that may be charged by your flight school. Additionally, your MGIB entitlement will be charged at a rate of one (1) month for a specific dollar amount paid, which is subject to change year to year. At press time the VA official site does not list that dollar amount.
Flight Training Benefits Under the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
VA.gov states, “We’ll pay for 60% of the approved charges for flight training. Every $466 that we pay will be equal to 1 month of MGIB-SR benefits.”
Flight Training Benefits Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill
If you’re using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for flight training, the payment you receive depends on a few factors:
- Level of eligibility (a percentage based on how long you served.)
- How much entitlement is left for training.
- The type of school and program in which you’re enrolled.
- Level of eligibility (a percentage based on how long you served.)
Veterans may qualify for 100% of the full benefit if at least one of these requirements applies:
- You served on active duty for a total of at least 1,095 days (at least 36 months), or
- You served on active duty and received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, or
- You served on active duty for at least 30 continuous days (without a break), and you were discharged because of a service-connected disability
If you served on active duty for less than 1,095 days (36 months), VA.gov reminds us, “you’re eligible for only part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit” and you should contact the VA to determine the specific level of benefit available to you.
How Much Will the Post 9/11 GI Bill Pay for Flight School?
VA.gov lists a dollar amount for the total benefit; for non-degree certificate or rating programs for Flight training, the VA pays “net tuition and mandatory fees up to $15,497.15” for 2023-2024. Individual years may feature different rates; the 2023-2024 numbers are only provided here as a reference.
Dollar amounts aren’t the only detail to pay attention to; here are some details regarding how the program you attend determines the benefits available. If you are enrolled in:
- A degree program that contains flight training at a public college or university. The VA will pay for up to the full in-state tuition and fees. You may also get a monthly housing allowance and money to cover books and supplies.
- A degree program that contains flight training at a private college or university. The VA will pay for the “net cost of tuition and fees” up to a yearly limit. The limit depends on your level of eligibility and the amount of benefit remaining. A housing allowance and money for books are available, as is the ability to use the Yellow Ribbon Program at participating schools.
Using the Fry Scholarship to Pay for Flight School
The Fry Scholarship is for qualifying survivors of a parent or spouse who died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, while serving in the Armed Forces, and for survivors of members of the Selected Reserve who died from a service-connected disability. Fry Scholarship benefits include the option to attend flight training in a non-degree certificate or rating program. VA.gov states, “We’ll pay the net tuition and mandatory fees up to $15,497.15.”
The VA pays tuition and fees directly to the institution.
Flight Training Programs Available Under the GI Bill and Fry Scholarship
Regardless of which school you plan to attend, your VA education benefits can help pay for the following flight qualifications:
- Rotary wing
- Dual Engine
- Flight Engineer
Applying for VA Education Benefits
To get started on the path to your commercial pilot license, you will need to apply for VA education benefits. There are multiple ways to do this:
- Apply Online. Follow the link to the GI Bill application page, fill out a short questionnaire, and get the process started. Apply Online.
- Apply by Mail. Call 888.442.4551, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, and request an application be sent to you through the mail. Once you fill it out, mail it to the VA regional claims processing office that is located in the same region as your school. Here’s a list of regional claims processing offices to explore.
- Apply In Person at a VA regional office to have a VA employee help you fill out an application for benefits. Here’s a list of VA regional offices near you. You can also work with your school’s certifying official for help with the application.
Colleges & Universities with VA-Approved Flight Training
Embry-Riddle is a world-class, private university that offers degree programs for veteran and military students.
Additionally, Daytona Beach, FL, and Prescott, AZ campuses offer Bachelor’s degrees in Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew subject areas. Students have the opportunity to get a degree and obtain a commercial pilot’s license at Embry-Riddle University.
Embry-Riddle offers 2 ground schools: Commercial Pilot Fixed Wing and Private Pilot Fixed Wing. The ERAU campuses for which these programs apply are located in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona.
Colorado Northwestern Community College is a public, 2-year school located in Rangely, Colorado. The school does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, but they are approved for Tuition Assistance, and have GI Bill-approved programs.
Additionally, CNCC offers an associate degree program that covers the Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew subject areas.
The University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College is a public two-year college that offers technical programs, university transfer programs, and other specialized programs serving central Arkansas.
This school also offers an associate’s degree program covering the Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew subject areas.
The Pulaski Technical College does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, however they are approved for Tuition Assistance, and they offer credit for military service.
The Texas State Technical College is a military- and veteran-focused technical college that offers a vast array of 2-year degree programs.
One of them happens to cover the commercial and professional pilot subject areas. While TSTC does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, the school does offer GI Bill approved programs. It also offers college credit for military experience, which is helpful for service members in transition.
The main campus of Central Texas College is a 2-year public college located in Killeen, Texas.
The CTC main campus offers a professional and commercial pilots program that can lead students to the acquisition of their professional pilot’s license.
Central Texas College participates in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, as well as the Tuition Assistance Program.
Additionally, eligible military-affiliated students can use the Texas Hazlewood Act, which is a benefit from the state of Texas that provides qualified veterans, spouses, and dependent children with up to 150 credit hours of tuition exemption.
More Colleges & Universities with Flight Training
The following schools also offer some form of flight training. This list has been populated from CollegeRecon’s School Finder searching by the “Aviation” subject area.
The colleges and universities listed above have some form of flight training curriculum. Be advised, they may not all be the full curriculum, where some schools may only offer rotary wing training, while others only offer fixed wing. Check with the school first to verify that the training you’re looking for is available.
Our transportation infrastructure depends upon those who have pilots licenses. Air travel is currently the fastest form of transportation used by businesses to move people and products around the world.
According to the Department of Labor, the median income for airline and commercial pilots was over $130,000 in 2020. Furthermore, the job outlook is expected to grow at 13% until 2030, which is faster than the national average.
If you’ve ever considered becoming a pilot, now is a great time to get that training. Find a school that suits your needs, and apply the GI Bill benefits to secure your future!
(Image courtesy of SFIO CRACHO via Shutterstock)
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