Not all trade schools are the same. Not all flight training schools are the same, either. You may face serious challenges and mountains of debt when you graduate – if the school is even around when you are supposed to graduate.
According to a recent New York Times article, unscrupulous for-profit schools are making enormous profits during these recessionary times. Many trade and training schools have overpromised and underdelivered for years, but the bad economy has made it worse and has added many risks to students. These schools have exploited the recession as a way to make money by tapping into large pools of federal student aid.
Two years ago, students at for-profit trade schools received $3.2 billion in Pell grants, according to the Department of Education. By the 2011-12 school year, students at for-profit schools will receive more than $10 billion in Pell grants, more than their public counterparts. Enrollment at for-profit trade schools has increased about 20 percent a year the last two years, more than double the pace from 2001 to 2007.
“During a recession, with increased demand for education and more anxiety about the ability to get a job, there is a heightened level of hazard,” said Robert Shireman, a U.S. Government secretary of education. “There is a lot of Pell grant money out there, and we need to make sure it’s being used effectively.”
Go to a Flight Training School You Trust
Do your homework before you sign any contract. Make sure the flight training school is qualified, accredited and reliable. Check the reputation of the flight school you are considering. You can do this through the local FAA Flight Standards District Office, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Air Transportation Association, the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. They can give you vital information about a school’s business practices. Make sure the flight training school has been operating for at least fifteen years.
Look for a school with a good record of getting graduates work. Many flight academies have job connections with commuter and regional airlines. Other schools claim they can get you interviews with major airlines. In any case, it is important for a flight school to help you get your first job.
If you are not extremely careful when you select a flight training school, you might be waiting in line for a long time – not the airport security line, the unemployment line.