Can the GI Bill Pay for Flight School? A Guide to VA Benefits for Pilot Training

For many veterans, a career as a commercial or airline pilot is an exciting possibility after military service. Flight school can be the pathway but the training is intensive and expensive. The good news is that GI Bill education benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs can provide substantial assistance in covering flight school costs. This comprehensive guide will outline the details on VA flight training benefits.

GI Bill Programs for Flight Training

The two main GI Bill programs that offer benefits for flight schools are:

  • The Montgomery GI Bill is for veterans who were in the military or had a family member who was in the military. Both MGIB-Active Duty and MGIB-Selected Reserve provide monthly payments directly to the veteran.

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill – For veterans with active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001. This program gives money directly to the flight school, but only up to a certain amount each year.

Because of its yearly payment caps, the Post-9/11 GI Bill usually covers more flight training. But the Montgomery GI Bill still offers a generous benefit for flight students.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for GI Bill flight benefits, you must meet these criteria

  • Honorably discharged veteran
  • VA education benefit eligibility (MGIB or Post-9/11 GI Bill)
  • Valid private pilot certificate
  • Valid second-class medical certificate

You must enter flight training already holding a private pilot license and current medical certificate. This is essential for VA benefit approval.

Types of Flight Training Covered

Both the MGIB and Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay for flight training from FAA-approved programs and flight schools Some examples include

  • Fixed wing qualifications
  • Rotary wing qualifications
  • Jet aircraft qualifications
  • Instrument ratings
  • Commercial pilot certification
  • Airline transport pilot (ATP) certification

Virtually all flight licenses, ratings and certifications from reputable flight schools are eligible, beyond the private pilot requirement.

Payment Amounts

Payment amounts will vary between the two main GI Bill programs:

Montgomery GI Bill

  • MGIB-AD: Up to $2,122 per month directly to veteran

  • MGIB-SR: Up to $407 per month directly to veteran

Post-9/11 GI Bill

  • Up to $15,497.15 per year paid directly to flight school (2023-2024)

  • Unlimited training time until benefits exhausted

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers higher annual assistance, whereas MGIB pays monthly student stipends. Both provide excellent flight school support.

Getting Started

To access your hard-earned education benefits for flight training:

  • Find an approved flight school and enroll in your desired program.

  • Apply to use your GI Bill with VA Form 22-1990.

  • Provide your private pilot license and medical cert to the flight school.

  • Make payments for charges beyond GI Bill coverage.

  • Flight school will submit your enrollment info to VA.

  • VA pays benefits to you or the school directly each month.

The flight school handles most of the process, while your role is applying for benefits and making any uncovered payments.

Payment and Coverage Examples

Let’s look at some hypothetical payment examples:

MGIB Coverage

Training program cost: $55,000

MGIB-AD pays: $25,464 ($2,122 x 12 months)

Your out-of-pocket cost: $29,536

Post-9/11 GI Bill Coverage

Training program cost: $55,000

Post-9/11 pays: $15,497.15

Your out-of-pocket cost: $39,502.85

These examples demonstrate how both GI Bill programs provide significant assistance, while you pay the remaining balance.

Duration of Benefits

Another consideration is the duration of payments:

  • MGIB has a 10-year limit on use after separation.

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill expires 15 years after discharge.

So Post-9/11 provides not only higher yearly amounts, but a longer benefit usage window.

Impact on Commercial Pilot Careers

Utilizing GI Bill assistance for flight school can have an immense impact on your commercial aviation career.

Benefits make intensive flight training affordable. This allows veterans to quickly build flight hours and credentials to qualify for pilot jobs after graduation.

The combination of veteran status, flight certifications, and experience also improves competitiveness for major airlines.

Choosing the Right Flight School

To maximize your GI Bill benefits, it pays to research flight schools thoroughly:

  • Total cost of the full program
  • Training aircraft types
  • Instructor qualifications
  • Location and facilities
  • Job placement track record
  • VA benefit usage processes

Comparing factors like these will help identify programs providing the best value and career preparation.

Alternative Funding Options

If your GI Bill benefit does not fully cover costs, look into these supplemental funding sources:

  • Federal Financial Aid – Loans and grants
  • Flight school scholarships
  • Personal/private student loans
  • VA vocational rehabilitation
  • Tuition assistance “top-up” program

Every bit helps in reducing out-of-pocket flight training costs.

Partnering Your GI Bill with Flight School

Gi Bill Pay For Flight School

Flight Training Using the Post-9/11 GI Bill

Payment for flight training under the Post-9/11 GI Bill varies depending on the type of flight training you are enrolled in:

  • If you are enrolled in a degree program that consists of flight training at a public institution of higher learning, you can be reimbursed up to the resident in-state cost of the training.
  • If you are enrolled in a degree program that consists of flight training at a private institution of higher learning, you can be reimbursed up to the full cost of the training or $27,120.05 per academic year, whichever is less. This increases to $28,937.09 on Aug. 1, 2024.
  • If you are enrolled in a type of vocational flight training, you can be reimbursed up to the full cost of training or $15,497.15 per academic year, whichever is less. This increases to $16,535.46 on Aug. 1, 2024.

Flight Training Using the Montgomery GI Bill

If you are training under the Montgomery GI Bill, the VA will reimburse you for 60% of the approved charges.

NOTE: Flight training is not available under the Dependents Education Assistance program.

How To Use The GI Bill To Become A Pilot


Can GI Bill be used for pilot school?

Your GI Bill® benefits can not be used to pay for the Airline Career Pilot Program – only reimbursement of FAA examiners’ fees and knowledge tests. You would typically need to be enrolled in a collegiate flight training program to utilize more of your benefits.

Does military tuition assistance pay for flight school?

Tuition assistance will not cover books or supplies, flight training fees, do-over or repeated courses, and continuing education units. You may have TA funds withdrawn and you may be required to repay the full amount of your tuition in the following circumstances: Leaving the military before the course ends.

Does the VA pay for private pilots license?

The first level of certification for pilots, the private pilot license, is not covered by the GI Bill, except when it is part of an accredited 4-year collegiate program for an aviation or aerospace degree.

Will airlines ever pay for flight school?

Tuition Reimbursement Partner airlines make a financial contribution toward the cost of your flight training. These programs vary by airline regarding how much you will receive and when you will become eligible for the financial assistance.

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