Gov. Murphy outlines $50M for partially free community college

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WEST WINDSOR -

Gov. Phil Murphy says he wants $50 million of his proposed budget to go toward making community college tuition-free for some families.

Murphy outlined his proposal Thursday at Mercer County Community College in greater detail than his budget address last month. The Democratic governor says he wants an additional $5 million to go to the state's 19 community colleges to help deal with the potentially higher enrollments.

"Students whose family income is less than $45,000 a year would be eligible, beginning next year,” Murphy said.

He said it's the first year of a "multiyear phase-in" aimed at entirely free community college.

“Who died and went to heaven and said that public education is free from K to 12 but not before K or after 12?” Murphy asked.

The administration estimates that about 15,000 students could be enrolled tuition-free by January.

Some critics of the governor’s plan say that it could greatly impact the budget.

“This isn't free. Taxpayers always pay the price and frankly, people in New Jersey pay far too much already,” Sen. Tom Kean Jr. said in a tweet.

Roughly a fifth of the state's 150,000 community college students are enrolled without cost thanks to other grant programs.

The governor has also proposed $5 million to help colleges adapt to increased enrollment.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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