No beginning flight school student wants to believe in anything but success when one begins their flight training career.
The thought of dropping out or not finishing is not on any prospective students mind when the flying adventure begins.
However, the harsh reality is that 64% of students that obtain their student certificate will not receive a pilot's license.
Many things come up that can interfere with flight training. Family issues, money, weather, health, jobs, inability to learn this business, failed written tests, failed practical tests or just finding out that this is not what the student expected will delay or stop flight training. Life happens!
So with a greater than a 6 out of 10 chance that you could fall into "normal" wash out of flight school students, you must examine and be aware of the refund and cancellation policy of your flight school. It is not to be ignored. If might be the most important part of the contract if you fall into the normal 64%.
The best way to avoid unfair cancellation and refund policies is to "PAY AS YOU FLY". Don't ever let the flight school get more than $2500 ahead of you. You will not find a pilot anywhere that will recommend that you ever pay more than $2500 in advance for your flight training.
This is a very important concept for you to understand. So I will say it again, Do not ever let the flight school get more than $2500 ahead of you.
Some flight schools will word their contracts to make it appear that there is little or no risk.
We recently were furnished a copy of a contract from a Florida flight school that guaranteed a 100% refund if canceled within the first 30 days.
The student came to us because the flight school still had his money after 65 days and still had not refunded his money. So even a 100% "Sure Thing" guaranteed refund is not worth the paper it's printed on when the school has no money to pay you.
How do you avoid this?
Do not ever let any flight school get more than $2500 ahead of you!
Some schools will keep most (if not all of your tuition) if you are not able to complete the program. This is A HUGE PROFIT CENTER for these flight schools. You leave, they keep your money and don't provide you your training or your certificates. The school now makes thousands of dollars for doing nothing other than getting you to sign a very one sided and unfair contract.
As as example, we know at the beginning of Jet University, a student paid $30,000 up front for the jet program and went to ground school for just four weeks. This student then failed a written systems test and was removed from class against his will. The school then kept $19,000 of this student's money. He received only an $11,000 refund. This student paid $19,000 to sit in a makeshift classroom for just 4 weeks.
The school could keep the $19,000 because that is the way the contract read. The school wanted students to leave so that they could keep the money.
DO NOT SIGN UP WITH ANY FIGHT
THAT HAS A CANCELLATION FEE
EXCEEDING $500 FOR UNEARNED TUITION.
There are some flight schools that will do everything possible to "reel you in" and get you to sign an expensive flight school contract. These types of schools have sales departments that will stay in constant contact with you until you sign the contract and pay your money. They will make everything sound great. They may show you pictures of luxury apartments that you will be staying in. They may represent a lot of things to get you to fork over your money.
Things will change once you arrive at the flight school for your training. The flight school will now do everything possible to keep you from flying.
The most common delay tactic is to put you in a ground school class. Ground school classes are cheap and they don't cost the flight school much at all. A flight school will have every excuse in the world why you need to stay in ground school before you fly. And that is where you will stay for a while.
When you finally figure out what is going on, they will start to put you in an aircraft. Months could have passed. They have broken you down much like a high pressure car dealership does when you are buying a car.
At this point you are so happy to actually be able to fly that you won't realize that you are not flying much at all. The "fight school trick" seems to be to allow you to fly 4-5 hours during the first flying month just to keep you strung along.
The flight school will then claim you are not making progress. They will claim you are a slow student. They will say you should study harder. They will tell you that need to be more serious about your career.
Of course, this is all not true. The fact is that the flight school slowed you down. It's all part of the process. It's designed to break you down and finally for you to give up. It's designed to get you to leave the flight school.
These types of flight schools are designed to get you to quit, flunk out or just leave. When you leave the flight school will keep your money and you will not get it back.
You must understand that once you pay the flight school a large sum of money in advance then they usually spend it very quickly. The money is not held in a trust account. It's simply gone. You have now put the flight school in a position of COSTING THEM MONEY for every service you use. It doesn't matter that you paid for all of these services in advance. So the flight school has an incentive to get rid of you. If they can get rid of you then you will not cost them any more money.
Want to avoid this? DO NOT PAY ANY FLIGHT SCHOOL ANY MORE THAN $2500 IN ADVANCE FOR ANY REASON. DO NOT LET A FLIGHT SCHOOL GET AHEAD OF YOU BY MORE THAN $2500 EVER!
If everyone would follow this advice then students will not lose money. Flight schools will have to be properly capitalized and the whole industry will benefit.
ACCET has a document library that covers just about every area of a school in order to become accredited by ACCET.
You can refer to their document library to determine if the policies and procedures at your flight school are fair. Keep in mind that the ACCET policies are the minimum required to be accredited. ACCET encourages their member schools to exceed the requirements to be more in favor of the student.
Hopefully many flight schools will become accredited by ACCET.