NU Online News Service, Nov. 5, 1:36 p.m. – A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., St. Louis, is now selling 529 college savings plans for residents of Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

The company began selling 529 plans for residents of Ohio, Rhode Island and Wyoming in 2000.

Section 529 of the federal Internal Revenue Code, a law that took effect in 2000, gives states the ability to offer attractive new college savings programs.

The federal government is exempting contributions and distributions from federal income taxes, and most states are exempting contributions from state income taxes or offering to tax assets only when beneficiaries begin making withdrawals.

Some states allow participants to set up 529 accounts for themselves and use assets to pay for living expenses as well as college tuition bills. In theory, residents of some states might be able to use the accounts to cover the cost of retiring on a college campus.

The programs A.G. Edwards is selling have set maximum contribution limits ranging from $120,000 to $250,000 per beneficiary, the company says.

Most states are hiring private investment companies to manage their programs.

A.G. Edwards is simply selling 529 plans for other investment companies, not administering the plans, the company says.

“By not administering any of these plans, we can offer objective advice on how these plans and other investment products and services make sense as part of a client’s comprehensive financial-planning strategy,” according to Mark Schlafly, an A.G. Edwards vice president.