If you ask people what they would do differently in life “if they’d only known,” you’ll hear a lot of people (especially those of us a little closer to retirement age) say they wish they’d made better financial choices and plans for their future.

In my first several months here, I’ve been able to meet some of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s long-standing supporters. Wade and Joan Webster definitely fit into that category.

The Websters, who established CFL’s very first scholarship 24 years ago, are not only doing something to help young people better afford college, but to get them on the right financial track as well.

Their own astute financial planning, coupled with career success – Wade as a financial planner and business owner and Joan as a nurse – allowed them to retire early and move to Hilton Head in 1987.

The Joan and Wade Webster Scholarship, administered by the Community Foundation, is part financial support for college and part financial planning for life. Scholarship recipients are required to “learn and demonstrate sound personal financial principles.”

They must read and write reports for selected books covering an array of financial topics during the four years they receive the scholarship. Additionally, they’re required to invest a small amount of money into an investment account and they must attend an annual financial awareness class, taught by Wade.

During these classes, lively discussions expose the students’ perspectives on saving, spending and investing. Wade says he must sometimes be painfully blunt with the students when discussing things like instant gratification or unrealistic expectations. But he’s learned to distinguish the difference between “educating the kids and stomping on their dreams.”

In the scholarship’s early days, the Websters were able to get to know the students and revel in their successes. Like the recipient who earned a Ph.D. and now works at the National Institute of Health, or the student who graduated early and was accepted to dental school. They were even invited to one student’s wedding.

But as more students have received the scholarship (68 in all), it has been more difficult to keep track of where they’ve all landed.

Joan and Wade feel it’s their duty to give back. And they know Community Foundation of the Lowcountry can help them accomplish that.

By working with us to establish their scholarship, they’ve been able to focus not only on providing local students with financial support for college, but on helping them develop knowledge and skill sets that open doors to better financial choices later in their lives.

It’s about the long-term results. And nothing says that more than the power of education and knowing how to plan for financial success.

Christopher Kerrigan is the CEO and president of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. cf-lowcountry.org