Merrill Lynch & Co. has introduced a section 529 tax-deferred college investment program sponsored by the Finance Authority of Maine.

Introduced last week, the NextGen College Investing Plan lets couples contribute up to $100,000 a year, which can be withdrawn and used for college expenses, including tuition and housing. Investors do not have to live in Maine, and funds can be used at any accredited college in the country. New York-based Merrill says it is the first full-service broker to offer the program.

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