Using your VA Benefits for flight training

Let's cut through the confusion regarding your GI Bill or Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefit for flight training. Making the most of these benefits can be complicated. In most cases, you'll want to wait until you depart military service before starting flight training with your VA benefits. But did you know you can also use the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program to pursue flight training on active duty, with full active duty pay and benefits? Your choices boil down to two options.
 
 

tortiseOption 1: Minimum Cost

Drawback: Slowest route to airlines

 

Enroll in a 4-year college flight training program. Normally the VA doesn't cover the cost of your first step in flight training, a Private Pilot License (PPL). But a 4-year collegiate program can offer PPL to you for free by consuming all four years of your GI Bill in exchange for 12 months of flight training spread out over four academic years.

Do not choose an aviation SkillBridge program for this option. Instead, we recommend you use SkillBridge to pursue a non-aviation job field that will earn supplementary income while you're in college.

 

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Option 2: Maximum Speed

Drawback: Out of pocket costs to you

 

Enroll in a 2-year associate or non-degree vocational school program. The fastest route to an airline job is one year of training followed by one year of time-building as a paid flight instructor. The first step is a Private Pilot License (PPL), which is not covered by the GI Bill. Consider the value of speed. All airline pilots face a mandatory retirement age of 65, and pilot pay is set by strict seniority gates. Every year you delay starting your first airline job costs you over $200k in career earnings. Aviation is a cyclical industry, and Covid-19 was just the latest of many furlough and layoff events. The first pilots in the door are the first ones re-hired. 

SkillBridge is the best first step. If you can afford any out-of-pocket costs, we recommend this route.

 

Flex Air is a Department of Defense SkillBridge flight school

Learn how you can use SkillBridge to unlock your GI Bill flight training benefits while still on active duty.

 

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