This is a motion in which defendant seeks summary judgment or alternative incidental relief.
The brief factual background is of sufficient interest to warrant its recital.
Plaintiff made application for admission to the dental school of the defendant university, and paid the requested deposit of $200 upon receipt of a letter of acceptance from defendant. Subsequently, plaintiff paid an additional sum of $910 upon registration, as requested, for a total of $1,110 representing one semester's tuition for dental studies. Two days thereafter, and six days prior to the actual commencement of classes, plaintiff notified defendant in writing that "I hereby resign my place in the Freshman Class at New York University College of Dentistry so that I may attend Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery. My matriculation was to begin in September 1967." Following defendant's refusal to refund the sum of $1,110 paid by plaintiff, action was commenced. Defendant's motion in essence seeks to dismiss plaintiff's complaint as a matter of law.
The questions before the court are admittedly rare. Except for an unreported case, this court has been unable to find a specific case in point within the State of New York. That factor, coupled with the overabundance of student applicants to a limit of space in colleges and professional schools and the continuing threat of litigation in this area, warrants an appropriate judicial review of the following issues raised:
1. Whether the contents of a university bulletin, and other documents, transmitted to a student applicant, are absolutely binding upon the applicant, actual knowledge of said contents or assent thereto notwithstanding.
2. Whether the "contract" embracing the rights of a student applicant and a university is required to be unequivocal and definable. . Whether a clause contained in a university bulletin making fees paid by student applicants "non-refundable" demands an absolute construction, public policy notwithstanding.
In urging its position, the defendant relies upon three documents which it claims make up the entire contract covering the agreement between the parties. They are:
A. A letter dated December 1, 1966 signed by the Director of Admissions, requesting the sum of $200 in order to "reserve a place for yourself in the class."
B. A mimeographed paper with the legend "Information and Instructions for All Freshman Students," hereinafter referred to as the Information Sheet.
C. The New York University College of Dentistry Bulletin and Announcement 1967-1968 (55 printed pages), hereinafter referred to as the Bulletin.
Item "A", supra, in part states, "It is understood that this deposit is a guarantee of good faith on your part and obligates the school to reserve a place for you. This deposit is refundable only for withdrawal in cases of serious illness." (Emphasis supplied.)
Item "B", supra, is an information sheet setting forth, in addition to other items, the ...