The daughter of an Airman attends her dream college with help from AFAS

Colonel Brandon McDonald comes from a long line of family members who have served their country, including his parents, his grandfather, and cousins. Col McDonald has served in the Air Force for 22 years. “My time serving has meant everything to myself and my family,” Col McDonald says. “We show so much pride in our country and our service.”

Col McDonald is also proud of the programs and support that the Air Force provides to Airmen and their families, which recently helped his daughter, Jayden, who was accepted into Columbia University this past spring.

Jayden enrolled at her top choice school, but the cost of tuition, room and board, and school materials began to add up fast. “In order to comfortably maintain my enrollment,” Jayden explains, “my family and I began looking for many options to help finance my higher education.”

This is when Jayden discovered the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS). AFAS offers different types of assistance to Airmen and Guardians in need, including emergency assistance and community programs. AFAS also provides educational support for dependent children and spouses of active duty and retired Airmen and Guardians in their pursuit of higher education with grants, scholarships, and loans.

Jayden received the Lieutenant General John D. Hopper Jr. education grant. The grant support made attending the prestigious university more accessible for her. Now, Jayden can focus on her education instead of worrying about how she’ll pay for textbooks and class materials. The grant has alleviated some of the stress that can come from attending an expensive school, allowing her to focus on her education.

“I would like these individuals and organizations to know that their continued generosity and support is what makes higher education a possibility for many students like myself,” Jayden says of the Society’s generous donors. “Words cannot describe how immensely grateful I am.”

Jayden has been at Columbia for a month, leaving her new empty-nester parents in Virginia. She’s settling comfortably into her new environment and enjoying her college experience.

Incorporated in 1942, the Air Force Aid Society continues to meet the unique needs of Airmen and Guardians. AFAS works to support and enhance the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force missions by providing emergency financial assistance, educational support, and community programs to Air Force and Space Force families. In 2021, AFAS provided over $13.5 million in assistance to more than 19,000 Air Force and Space Force families. Visit to learn more, apply for assistance, or to donate.