Guide to Using Your GI Bill for Flight School


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As a military veteran, you can use your GI Bill benefits to pursue flight training. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to qualify and utilize your GI Bill for flight school.

Qualification Requirements1. Determine your GI Bill program.
2. Obtain a statement of benefits.
3. Check flight school eligibility.
4. Have a private pilot’s license.
5. Meet medical certificate requirements.
6. Flight training benefits not available through DEA.
GI Bill Programs– Post-9/11 GI Bill
– Montgomery GI Bill
– Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
GI Bill Benefits– Post-9/11 GI Bill: Varies based on eligibility and program type.
– Montgomery GI Bill: 60% reimbursement of approved fees.
Eligible Aircraft Types– Rotary wing
– B747-400
– Dual engine
– Flight engineer
Limitations– Cannot be used for initial pilot’s license.
– Costs may not be fully covered; explore other funding options.
Application Process1. Get accepted at the flight school.
2. Consult with school representatives.
3. Start the application process early.
Payment under Post-9/11 GI Bill– Based on eligibility, remaining entitlement, program type, and school.
Payment under Montgomery GI Bill– 60% reimbursement of approved charges.
Additional Qualifications Covered– Vocational flight training
– Bachelor’s degree programs with aviation programs
– FAA Part 141 certified schools
– Various ratings and certificates
Financial Considerations– Costs may not be fully covered; explore other funding options.
Benefits for Flight Training– Opportunities to advance pilot qualifications.

How To Qualify To Use Your GI Bill Benefits For Flight School

  1. Determine Your GI Bill Program: First and foremost, you need to ascertain which GI Bill program you are eligible for. There are several options, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, or Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP). Ensure you are aware of your specific program.
  2. Obtain a Statement of Benefits: Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to get a statement of benefits that outlines your current GI Bill eligibility. This statement will be required by the flight school you plan to attend.
  3. Check Flight School Eligibility: Ensure that the flight school you wish to attend is eligible to accept GI Bill program funds. This might necessitate providing documents like your DD Form 214 Report of Discharge or its Guard/Reserve equivalent. In some cases, proof of service or VA disability ratings may be needed to claim state or federal program benefits.
  4. Private Pilot’s License: To use your GI Bill for flight training, you must already have a private pilot’s license. Additionally, you need to possess a second-class medical certificate (or first-class if you intend to pursue an Airline Transport Pilot certificate) according to the VA’s official requirements.
  5. Exclude Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance: Note that flight training benefits are not available through Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA).

GI Bill Benefits That May Be Used For Flight Training

Depending on your specific GI Bill program, you can expect different levels of reimbursement for your flight training:

Montgomery GI Bill or REAP: Under these programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs will reimburse approved flight school students for up to 60% of the approved fees you owe the school for your training.

Post 9/11 GI Bill: The benefits under this program vary based on your level of eligibility, remaining entitlement, the nature of the program, and the school you wish to enroll in. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Flight training degree programs at a public school or university are eligible for the full in-state cost of tuition and fees (subject to your eligibility and remaining entitlement), along with a housing allowance and other benefits.
  • Flight training at a private college or university covers the net cost of tuition and fees up to a yearly limit, along with a housing allowance and funds for books and supplies. The Yellow Ribbon Program may be available to offset additional costs.
  • Stand-alone Part 141 pilot schools have options for covering the net cost of training up to a yearly limit, but do not provide a housing allowance or funds for books and supplies.

What You Need To Know About Using GI Bill Funds To Pay For Flight School

  1. Eligible Aircraft Types: As of the time of writing, GI Bill funds can be used for the following aircraft types: rotary wing, B747-400, dual engine, and flight engineer.
  2. Limitations on Initial Pilot’s License: GI Bill funds cannot be used to obtain an initial pilot’s license. You should already have a private pilot’s license before seeking GI Bill payment for flight training.
  3. Additional Qualifications: Depending on the school, program, and accreditation, your GI Bill can be used for various aspects of flight training, such as vocational flight training, bachelor’s degree programs at colleges with aviation programs, FAA Part 141 certified schools, and various ratings and certificates, including instrument ratings, commercial pilot certificates, flight instructor qualifications, type ratings, and approved aircraft dispatcher ratings.
  4. Financial Considerations: Keep in mind that the GI Bill may not cover all the costs of your flight school training. Flight schools often recommend exploring other options, such as Pell Grants and other federal funding choices, to ensure that all your expenses are met.
  5. Application Process: To access your GI Bill benefits for flight training, you need to get accepted at the flight school of your choice. It’s advisable to consult with an admissions counselor or school representative to understand the application process, how your GI Bill benefits will apply, and any other factors that may impact your enrollment.
  6. Early Planning: Applying for GI Bill benefits can take time. Expect the Department of Veterans Affairs to review your application and paperwork, which can take up to a month. To ensure a smooth process, start early and avoid last-minute applications.

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. The reimbursement amounts depend on your level of eligibility, remaining entitlement, and the type of school or program:

  • Degree programs with flight training at public institutions: Up to the resident in-state cost of training.
  • Degree programs with flight training at private institutions: Up to the full cost of training or a specified yearly limit, whichever is less.
  • Vocational flight training: Up to the full cost of training or a specified yearly limit, whichever is less.

Flight Training Using the Montgomery GI Bill

If you’re training under the Montgomery GI Bill, the VA will reimburse you for 60% of the approved charges from your flight school.

Final Thoughts

Using your GI Bill benefits for flight training can be an excellent opportunity to advance your career in aviation. However, it’s essential to understand your specific GI Bill program, the eligibility criteria, and the funding limitations. Start your application process early, seek guidance from your chosen flight school, and ensure that you have met all the necessary requirements to make the most of your GI Bill benefits for flight training.

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