AOPA Scholarships: Features, Eligibility Criteria, Application Process, Funders and Benefits

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) gives over $1 million in scholarships annually for aspiring pilots, technicians, and aviation professionals.

Whether you’re a high school student eager to fly, a college student honing your skills, or someone needing specialized training, AOPA has a scholarship for you.

An image illustration of AOPA scholarships

Whether you’re a high school student enthralled by the clouds, a college aspirant aiming for higher ratings, or a seasoned professional seeking specialized training, an AOPA scholarship could be your launchpad.  [PHOTO: AeroTime]

Aopa Scholarships

AOPA, the world’s largest aviation nonprofit, provides over $1 million in scholarships annually.

If you’re a high school student into the clouds, a college aspirant aiming for higher ratings, or a professional seeking specialized training, an AOPA scholarship could be your launchpad.

High School Scholarships for Aspiring Eagles

AOPA Foundation offers the You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarship:

This merit-based scholarship, valued up to $10,000, supports high school students (ages 16-18) showing leadership and academic excellence in pursuing their pilot’s license.

The AOPA Air Safety Institute Flight Training Scholarship goes to high school seniors passionate about safety. This scholarship aids in advancing their flight training while raising awareness about safety.

Features of Aopa Scholarships

AOPA scholarships provide a diverse and exciting platform for realizing your aviation dreams. Here are standout features:

  1. Varied Support:
    • Flight Training: AOPA aids in reaching piloting goals, from initial licenses to advanced ratings and certificates.
    • Beyond Flying: Scholarships cover aviation maintenance technicians and airport management professionals, ensuring smooth operations.
    • Safety First: Programs like the AOPA Air Safety Institute scholarship prioritize safe flying practices.
  2. Generous Funding:
    • Over $1 million is awarded annually, with individual scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 and beyond. This significantly reduces the financial burden of pursuing aviation aspirations.
  3. Diverse Eligibility:
    • Open to high school students through dedicated programs like “You Can Fly.”
    • College students in aviation programs or related fields find ongoing education support.
    • Current pilots and professionals can enhance their skills and expertise through specialized scholarships.
  4. Focus on Passion and Potential:
    • AOPA looks beyond financial need, seeking applicants who demonstrate:
      • Genuine passion for aviation through essays, recommendations, and relevant activities.
      • Academic excellence with strong grades and engagement in academic pursuits.
      • Leadership and community involvement, contributing to the aviation community or showcasing leadership.
  5. Valuable Extras:
    • Mentorship opportunities: Learn from experienced aviators and professionals.
    • Networking events: Connect with fellow scholarship recipients and industry leaders.
    • Membership benefits: Enjoy additional advantages as an AOPA member.

Eligibility Criteria

AOPA scholarships set specific eligibility requirements while also seeking candidates displaying passion and potential beyond financial need.

General Eligibility:

  • US Citizenship or Legal Permanent Resident: A common requirement for most AOPA scholarships.
  • Good academic standing: Maintain a minimum GPA (usually 2.5-3.0) depending on the scholarship.
  • Demonstrated interest in aviation: Shown through extracurricular activities, volunteer work, flight experience, or essays.

Specific Requirements:

  • Age: Some scholarships target specific age groups, like high school students (16-18) or college students.
  • Enrollment status: Some scholarships are for current college students, while others are open to anyone pursuing aviation training.
  • Pilot certificate or rating: Certain scholarships require existing flight experience for advanced training.
  • Career goals: Some scholarships are intended for specific career paths like aviation maintenance or airport management.

Beyond the Basics:

  • Passion and commitment: Showcased through essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities.
  • Leadership and community involvement: Contributing to the aviation community or leadership in other areas.
  • Financial need: Demonstrated financial need is considered along with other factors.

Additional Resources:

  • Detailed eligibility criteria on each AOPA scholarship page on their website.
  • AOPA Foundation FAQ document provides general information about their scholarship programs.
  • Contacting the AOPA Scholarship Department directly can help clarify any questions.


  • Applying for multiple scholarships increases your chances of success.
  • Start early! Deadlines vary, but most applications close between February and May.
  • Prepare strong application materials showcasing your passion and potential.

By meeting eligibility requirements and highlighting your dedication to aviation, you increase your chances of securing an AOPA scholarship and taking flight toward your aviation dream.

Aopa Scholarships Application Process

An image illustration of AOPA Scholarships
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) offers a diverse and attractive array of scholarships, making your aviation dreams a tangible reality. [PHOTO: AOPA]
The AOPA Scholarship application process is simple and accessible, and knowing the steps can enhance your chances of success. Here’s a breakdown:
  1. Explore and Choose Scholarships:
    • Visit the AOPA Scholarships page: AOPA Flight Training Scholarships.
    • Browse scholarships, carefully read eligibility criteria, and choose ones aligned with your goals.
    • You can apply for multiple scholarships!
  2. Meet the Deadlines:
    • Application deadlines vary (between February and May for most).
    • Mark important dates on your calendar and start preparing early to avoid last-minute rushes.
  3. Prepare Application Materials:
    • Complete the online application for each chosen scholarship.
    • Gather required documents like transcripts, flight logbooks (if applicable), letters of recommendation (usually two), and essays on your aviation goals and experiences.
  4. Write Compelling Essays:
    • Showcase your passion and commitment to aviation.
    • Use storytelling and real-life examples to highlight your experiences, skills, and achievements.
    • Proofread carefully for clarity and correctness.
  5. Secure Strong Recommendations:
    • Ask teachers, flight instructors, mentors, or community leaders who know you well.
    • Provide information about the scholarship and your application to help tailor their letters effectively.
  6. Submit Your Application:
    • Review all materials before submitting.
    • Ensure eligibility requirements and deadlines are met.
    • Submit your complete application online by the deadline for each chosen scholarship.

Additional Tips:

  • Become an AOPA member for added benefits and potential scholarship bonuses.
  • Attend AOPA webinars and events to learn more about scholarship opportunities and aviation careers.
  • Thoroughly proofread your application before submission.
  • Follow up with the AOPA Scholarship Department for any questions.

Scholarship Funders

When seeking aviation scholarships, AOPA isn’t the only player in the game! While they offer fantastic opportunities, exploring other potential scholarship funders is crucial for maximizing success.

Here are diverse sources to consider:

Government Agencies:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Offers various scholarships for pilot training, maintenance, and other aviation fields.
  • National Institute of Aerospace (NIA): Provides undergraduate and graduate research fellowships in related aerospace fields.
  • State and Local Agencies: Many states and localities offer aviation scholarships specific to their residents.

Aviation Colleges and Universities:

  • Most aviation colleges and universities have their scholarship programs. Research their websites or financial aid offices.
  • Contact specific university departments, like flight training or maintenance programs, for potential scholarship opportunities.

Private Foundations and Organizations:

  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as mentioned previously.
  • Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA): Supports various aviation programs, including scholarships for young aviators.
  • Aircraft and Helicopter Industries Association (AHIA): Offers scholarships for students pursuing careers in the manufacturing and engineering side of aviation.

Professional Pilot Organizations:

  • Many pilot unions and associations offer scholarships to their members or aspiring members.

Community Organizations and Clubs:

  • Local flying clubs and aviation organizations often have scholarship programs.
  • Check with your local airport authority or aviation businesses for potential scholarship opportunities.

Independent Donors and Corporations:

  • Some individual donors and aviation-related businesses offer scholarships based on merit, financial need, or specific criteria.
  • Research online scholarship databases or aviation forums for unique opportunities.


  • Apply for multiple scholarships! Don’t limit yourself to just AOPA. More applications increase your chances of receiving funding.
  • Start early! Scholarship deadlines vary, but most close between February and May.
  • Tailor your application materials for each scholarship, highlighting relevant experiences and goals.
  • Network within the aviation community. Talking to pilots, instructors, and professionals might reveal hidden scholarship opportunities or mentorship connections.

Benefits of The Scholarship

AOPA scholarships offer benefits that go beyond financial aid; they serve as a launchpad for your aviation journey, providing essential support and resources at every stage.

Here’s a closer look at the advantages you can enjoy:

  1. Financial Springboard:
    • Reduce Financial Burden: AOPA scholarships, ranging from $2,500 to $14,000, significantly alleviate the costs of flight training, maintenance training, or airport management education.
    • Focus on Passion: With financial worries lessened, you can dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to learning, honing your skills, and excelling in your chosen aviation field.
  2. Diverse Opportunities:
    • Tailored to Your Needs: AOPA offers scholarships for various stages and goals, from high school students taking their first flight to experienced professionals seeking advanced training.
    • Beyond Flying: Support extends beyond piloting, with scholarships for aviation maintenance technicians and airport management professionals crucial for a thriving aviation ecosystem.
  3. Investment in Potential:
    • Focus on Passion and Potential: AOPA goes beyond financial need, seeking applicants who demonstrate genuine passion for aviation, academic excellence, and leadership qualities.
    • Mentorship and Networking: Scholarship recipients gain access to valuable mentorship opportunities from experienced aviators and professionals, building crucial connections in the industry.
  4. Additional Perks:
    • Membership Benefits: As an AOPA member, scholarship recipients enjoy additional benefits like discounts on aviation products, access to exclusive events, and valuable resources.
    • Community and Confidence: Being part of the AOPA scholarship community fosters a sense of belonging and confidence, knowing you’re among like-minded individuals pursuing similar dreams.