NU Online News Service, May 14, 12:55 p.m. – Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, Boston, a unit of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, has launched Manulife College Savings Employee Select, a voluntary 529 college savings benefit program.

Employees at participating companies can enroll in the program with contributions of as little as $50 per month.

Section 529 of the federal Internal Revenue Code lets each state set up its own college savings program. Investors who live in the state that sponsors a program can often defer state income taxes on contributions. Perhaps more important, consumers who invest in a program sponsored by any state can usually defer federal income taxes on the contributions.

Students can withdraw the assets for tuition and living expenses without paying federal income taxes on the withdrawals.

The Manulife program offers employees a chance to invest in mutual funds from several well-known investment companies.