Saving for college has become a cottage industry. There are now over 80 varieties of the Section 529 plan alone. The result is a complex maze of investment options, cost structures, tax benefits and financial aid implications. The federal government's attention to the complexities has some thinking that there might be significant changes on the way.The National Association of Securities Dealers is currently looking into the sales practices of some 20 brokers, questioning whether these brokers are actually presenting the plans that best suit each client's needs.

Rick Hill, CFP, the in-house college savings expert for Buckingham Asset Management, in St. Louis, Mo., and the other investment advisors at BAM recommend 529s in limited situations. "We're looking for investment options with low fees," said Hill. "The great majority of these plans are broker-sold, and often they're pushing plans from certain states because they receive the commissions."

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