The average cost for a private pilot certificate is between $6000 and $8,000 with a standard training aircraft (not technology advanced aircraft). That will cover the minimum 40 hours and most of the other expenses. It is usually best to have that amount available before you start and to fly regularly, at least once a week but preferably at least twice or more (probably 2 hour slots gaining over an hour of flight time), otherwise you lose too much between the lessons and end up spending more money with little success. We do offer training outside of GIFT week at normal costs. There are several organizations that offer scholarships for example: (http://www.wai.org/) (http://www.ninety-nines.org/) (http://www.whirlygirls.org/) also check with AOPA, FAA and local airport/flight schools for others.
Other Part 141 schools can often be paid for through financial aide similar to college, we do not often recommend this path as the debt is a weight that is difficult to lose without being very dedicated and the other half of that equation is some of the schools which this is an option is not focused on getting a student through and finished in a particular time frame or only use technology advanced aircraft (glass cockpit) which adds to the higher costs. This can be dealt with by knowing this factor. Make certain they schedule your next lesson before leaving each day, when your scheduled to fly do not allow them to redirect you to ground school just because they double booked the aircraft, (this would not include situation such as weather or maintenance delays). Also receiving occasional outside instruction can often be applied to totals and also give you someone you can call on to assist you when your feeling ignored at the school. Check with your schools programs as some do not allow outside training. Some large flight schools that have a standard program in place often will keep you training longer than necessary which runs up your costs. Asking other students that have achieved their PPL there and see if they know how much it cost them, if well outside the suggested range of cost you would serve yourself well to look at other schools. Also do not recommend going into debt for a pilots license as a pilots career does not usually pay well in the beginning years and we often say aviation is feast or famine and can swing from both extremes in about 10 years on average. Age is a factor here also when starting your training and where your end goal is. Airlines have a mandatory retirement age of 65 and minimum hiring requirement of the pilot having 1500 hours and the ATP rating also. starting your training in your 40's may limit you if on limited funds or time for training. and most starting pay for copilots often will barely cover basic living expenses much less your debt if finance training. This is not to say cant be done, just reality and for you to gain the most from your time and money. Airlines are not the only options available, many do enjoy various freight haul operators large and small other than just UPS and Fedex, other find careers in corporate or charters. Others this is just a hobby or a supplement to their current careers like real estate agents, those who travel often for work like sales or managers who visit several offices in other cities.
Time building options for a few folks is finding that position that maybe is not a pilot job (for the not yet commercial pilot) like an observer with a pipeline flight, or maybe something similar in mapping or photography. Yes many of these jobs are fewer due to the newer advanced equipment that does the work automatically, some still do exist. Now usually means least having a PPL and the endorsements or meet the requirements of that aircraft (unless the pilot in command in an instructor and willing to sign the dual) and when the job is done and then you get to fly the plane home and log that portion of the time. The jobs often pay fairly low scale (often about same as some flight attendant positions), but if gaining 10-15 hours a week for a 4-5 day work week, for approx. $25K, some realize they cant afford to pass it up. you get your hours and then save or work that extra job or get a scholarship then get those advanced licenses quicker than imagined plus some real world experiences that most in those school programs will not have, that might make you the better choice at interview time!