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New Jersey high-school seniors who were forced to leave school and enroll in college in order to meet new eligiblity rules for the Social Security financial-aid program have received help from the state.

Under a law signed recently by Gov. Thomas H. Kean, those students who dropped out of high school and enrolled in college in order to remain eligible for Social Security education benefits will be given their high-school diplomas, even though they will not finish all of the courses usually necessary to meet graduation requirements.

The law waives for the students the state's 180 school-day requirement, as well as its requirement that students complete four years of English and two years of American history.

An estimated 8,000 to 17,000 high-school seniors in New Jersey, who are now receiving Social Security benefits, are eligible for a diploma under the new law if they left school early to enroll in college.

In all, about 78,000 New Jersey students--from kindergarten through graduate school--receive Social Security benefits.

Time has run out on Social Security benefits for this year's high-school seniors.

Students who were not enrolled full time in a postsecondary institution by last Saturday, May 1, will not be eligible for the special finan-cial aid for the children of deceased, widowed, or disabled workers.

More than a dozen bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate during the past few months seeking to extend the eligibility deadline to Oct. 1, but none of them was acted upon before the May 1 deadline took effect. Education officials and Congressional aides say that approval of a retroactive extension of the deadline is unlikely.

It is estimated that as many as 300,000 high-school seniors nationwide may have had their college plans upset by the adoption of new federal laws phasing out the Social Security benefit program for college students. Many left high school early and have enrolled in college in order to retain their benefits.

Last summer, Congress voted to phase out the $2.4-billion financial-aid program, which provided an average of about $2,700 per student in 1981.

Funeral services were held last week in Johnstown, Ohio, for Representative John M. Ashbrook, the ranking Republican member of the House Education and Labor Committee, who died suddenly of massive internal bleeding on April 24.

Mr. Ashbrook, an 11-term veteran of the House, served on the House education panel since his election to office in 1960. A champion of conservative causes in Congress, the 53-year-old Representative had planned to run this year for the Senate seat currently held by Howard Metzenbaum.

Mr. Ashbrook's position as rank-ing Republican member of the House panel will be filled by Representative John N. Erlenborn, a nine-term Congressman from Illinois with similarly conservative views. Mr. Erlenborn has served on the House education committee since 1967.

The former director of the U.S. Education Department's programs for gifted and talented students was sentenced last week in a Virginia Commonwealth Circuit Court to nine months in jail on charges stemming from three sex-related misdemeanors.

Judge William L. Winston ordered Harold C. Lyon Jr., the former ed official, to begin serving his sentence on May 17 after having been found guilty on charges of promoting illicit sexual intercourse. Mr. Lyon, who resigned from his government position in December, was also sentenced to three years' probation and will be eligible for parole in six months.

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