Are Budget Cuts Putting Your Aviation College At Risk?

The large number of pilots retiring and the ever-increasing number of planes in use has produced a shortage of pilots, as we all know. We also know that studying at an aviation college is a good path to becoming a pilot with great career prospects. As an aviation college is it becoming harder and harder to keep your costs down due to the continued increase in state budget cuts.  As costs go up for you program so do tuition rates making it more challenging to keep enrollment numbers high, as it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents and students to justify the cost of a degree.  Here are some useful ways to minimize the impact of increasing costs and help your institution survive government funding cuts while maintaining enrollment levels:

Offer flexible training: While learning to fly is a hands-on experience, their is still a significant amount of classroom teaching involved. Aviation college staff can reduce these costs through learning online or at home. Resources such as online video, Wikis and virtual classrooms are useful tools to help keep cost down as well as increase your degrees appeal to a larger pool of potential students.

Fundraise: Though sometimes difficult increasing fundraising can help plug any gaps in funding. It's worth appealing to retired pilots who want to make a difference in their community and business owners looking to invest in the future of young people.  It also doesn't hurt to go directly to the alumni of your program.  Alumni don't want to see their alma mater program struggle, nor do they want to see the aviation industry fail because of an unmet demand.  Failure may be a bit harsh but we very well could see drastic repercussions if we are unable to increase the number of pilots in the industry in the coming years.

Outsource: Many aviation colleges could benefit from being run more like a business.  In business one of the easiest ways to cut costs is to outsource anything that is not a core competency.  For aviation programs, functions such as accounting, HR, and even marketing may be better performed by outside groups with expertise in each discipline.

Make the most of your assets: Aviation is an expensive industry and replacing a plane can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Always ensure your aircraft are in good condition to last that much longer. A good alternative to buying a new fleet is to lease instead.  By leasing you could free up capital for other purposes and essentially put cash right back into your budget.  Plus, if you lease with the right partner you may have options enabling you to lease-to-own or lease-to-upgrade your fleet. 

Be realistic: When planning budgets, always be realistic about the number of potential students your aviation college is likely to teach in the coming year. Don't overreach resources by offering more places than you can afford.