If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, American Funds has a lot to be proud of. An innovative 529 plan it launched with the State of Virginia last Friday has caused at least two other investment managers to revamp their own college savings plans, according to industry executives.

American Funds' plan, called CollegeAmerica, was the first to announce that it would offer individual funds in its program. Until recently, 529 plans offered only pre-designed portfolios of mutual funds.

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