Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kansas State: Affordable Excellence

A world-class UAV program, Beechcraft fleet and small class size make K-State a standout

In October 2013, Kansas State University Salina received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to certify graduates who are eligible to apply for a restricted Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. This means K-State aviation major graduates who complete at least 60 hours of aviation coursework only need 1,000 hours of flight time to be hired by a regional carrier (as opposed to the 1,500-hour standard requirement). Since most K-State graduates also instruct at the school after graduation to build hours, this certification means graduates can apply to regional airlines sooner, giving them a higher seniority number and culminating in a higher earning capacity over the span of their career.

"A lot of regional airlines actively recruit our students," said Wagoner. "In fact, our aviation program is usually full." K-State boasts a 97% post-graduation job placement rate for the last five years and offers a full complement of financial aid options including extensive veteran's benefits, grants and scholarships. K-State Salina graduates have been placed with American Airlines, American Eagle, America West, Continental Express, Southwest, United and Vanguard, and the school has partnerships with American Airlines, ASA, Mesaba Airlines, Sea Port Airlines, Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna and Bombardier Learjet. "We have a pathway program with Express Jets that's a little over a year old, and they have hired 14 of our graduates so far," added Wagoner.

From an affordability aspect, Kansas State University's aviation program is tough to beat. For example, a student pursuing the Professional Pilot bachelor's degree can expect to pay $33,226 total in-state tuition for all four years of school plus fixed-wing flight costs of about $42,017 for all ratings through CFII. Adding in extra fees and miscellaneous items, a four-year aviation degree with all the ratings necessary to get a job as a professional pilot will cost a K-State student about $81,683. Another K-State advantage is the small and personalized feel of the school's aviation program, with only about 250 students enrolled at a time.

K-State believes in getting aviation students into the sky as soon as possible. Wagoner tells us that new students begin flying within two weeks of the start of semester. K-State also offers unique add-ons like tailwheel and upset training, mountain flying and a glider rating. A rotary wing program is also available for those interested in helicopters.

A big differentiator among aviation universities is K-State's diverse fleet of training aircraft. In addition to the requisite 20 Cessna 172s (many G1000 equipped), K-State has two twin-engine Beechcraft Barons, six Beechcraft Bonanzas and a King Air C-90. From a fun-to-fly perspective, you can't get much better than the Beechcrafts. For convenience, the campus and dorms are adjacent to the airport, so students can walk home from their aircraft. With a small class size and 1.2 million square feet of ramp area, crowding is never a problem.

Though learning to fly will never be inexpensive, institutions like Kansas State are a rare find in that they combine affordability with quality training. Anyone pursuing a path in the cockpit should give K-State Salina a close look. At a fraction of the price of more expensive options, students can click their heels and be glad that they're in Kansas, after all.


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