The Justice Department has moved to join in a suit challenging a new Mississippi law that would required Iranian students to pay nearly five times the tuition charged other students.

The government, seeking to protect the civil rights of Iranians during the hostage crisis, filed papers in U. S. District Court at Oxford to join a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. t

Gov. William Winter on May 26 signed the law imposing a $4,000 "non-residents from countries that have no formal relations with the United States and are subject to U. S. economic sanctions.

The law also would affect students from Vietnam, Cambodia and possibly Albania, Iraq and South Yemen, but the Justice Department argued the law's "clear intent" was to block Ianians from attending Mississippi schools.

Officials said there were few, if any, students in Mississippi state schools from the other countries affected, while there are 432 Iranian students in the state.

A nonresident student at Mississippi's state-supported schools pays tuition ranging from $664 to $879 per year, plus a non-resident fee of $825, according to the Justice Department. The new Mississippi law, scheduled to take effect July 1, would quintuple the nonresident fee.