Democrats who support a far-reaching plan to reconfigure Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry are downplaying the merger's costs.

Andrew Hendry, executive director of the Senate Democratic office, says Rutgers' estimate of $40 million to $50 million is "on the high side."

However, he could not provide a dollar amount for combining the schools.

Rutgers trustees say they are concerned about absorbing hundreds of millions in UMDNJ debt. The universities will absorb the costs, as no additional state appropriation is planned.

The proposal combines Rowan and Rutgers-Camden in a quasi-merger and transfers UMDNJ to Rutgers. Rowan gets UMDNJ's osteopathy school in the deal.

Cost estimates have been awaited since Gov. Chris Christie proposed the plan in January.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)