Top Massachusetts Democrats are talking about free community college for residents of the Commonwealth. It's an idea floated by new Governor Maura Healey and by newly re-elected Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka.

In her inaugural address, Healey said the cost of free community college is an "investment in our people."

"In my first budget, I will create and fund a new program called MassReconnect," Healey said. "This will offer free community college to students over 25 who don't have a college degree."

Massachusetts' 15 Community Colleges Could Soon Be Free
Adam Bass/Townsquare Media

"We will also enhance early college opportunities and increase funding to our state university system so everyone can afford a higher degree," she said.

Healey's speech was short on details such as how much free community college would cost, a funding source, and why it would only be available to those 25 and older.

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According to State House News Service, Spilka told WBZ TV's Jon Keller and WCVB's Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti that free community college would cost taxpayers about $50 million.

Spilka said it is a worthwhile investment.

"When people ask me about the cost, I feel my best and first response is, what is the cost if we do not do it?" she said.

Massachusetts' 15 Community Colleges Could Soon Be Free
State House News Service Photo

Massachusetts has 15 community colleges, including Bristol Community College, that offer associate degrees and certification in a variety of program areas. BCC has campuses in Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton.

Spilka told Channel 4 she is not sure why Healey's plan would set an age restriction but that she "looks forward to working with her on this issue to iron it out."

"I believe we should open it up to all students," she said.

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