After launching Scholars Choice, a 529 tax-advantaged college savings program with the state of Colorado, Salomon Smith Barney has linked up with Illinois to introduce a similar offering called BrightStart.

SSB and Citi Asset Management Group have also signed an agreement with West Virginia to handle its college savings program. That program will be available later this year.

By locking up three states, SSB has pulled into second place with Merrill Lynch and Fidelity for having the most state college savings programs. TIAA-CREF handles college savings programs for nine states.

BrightStart is "a good program because it allows realistic funding to cover educational expenses," says one SSB broker. "You can contribute up to 160,000 dollars, and there are no restrictions based on a family's income."

When a BrightStart account balance reaches 160,000 dollars, no further contributions can be made.