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Agencies Unite For College Plan Oversight

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The National Association of Securities Dealers is joining forces with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board to help students and their parents.

The NASD, Washington, a self-regulatory group for securities broker-dealers, and the MSRB, the agency that regulates the municipal bond market, have issued a formal joint statement emphasizing that they will work together to harmonize regulation of mutual funds and 529 college savings plans.

Although 529 plans often look to consumers as if they offer a menu of ordinary mutual funds, Congress put the plans under the jurisdiction of the MSRB.

In the joint statement, the MSRB says it will try to adopt 529 plan marketing rules that will be equivalent to future NASD mutual fund sales practices rules.

If applying an NASD mutual fund rule to 529 plans would be illegal or inappropriate, the MSRB will adopt the portions of the rule that are legal and appropriate and, when possible, come up with alternative rules that will provide equivalent investor protection, the MSRB says.

The MSRB also has promised to work with state issuers of 529 plans to help them ensure regulatory consistency.

A copy of the joint statement is on the Web at Document Link