After months of negotiations, Congress gave final approval Nov. 10 for a bill promising to restore more than $250 million a year to the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), along with other institutions that teach large shares of minority students, reports the Associated Press.

The House voted 319-96 in favor of the legislation, and the Senate voted hours later to approve final changes to the bill. It will save a source of funding that expired at the end of September and now make it permanent, bringing relief to scores of schools that were bracing for the possibility of deep budget cuts.

“Today we are sending an important message of support for our HBCUs and showing in no uncertain terms that we believe they are vital to our system of higher education,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), a member of the Senate’s education committee and one of the bill’s sponsors.

The legislation, known as the Future Act, also makes changes to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, the federal form college students fill out to check their eligibility for financial aid. The legislation will make it easier for the Education Department to gather information directly from the IRS, which will reduce at least 22 questions from the form. The FAFSA simplifications are estimated to save $2.8 billion over a decade, which will be used to pay for the annual funding to minority institutions.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House’s Committee on Education and Labor, said HBCUs play an outside role in educating low-income students, yet their funding has lagged behind other institutions. Now, he said, they can rely on a guaranteed source of funding to continue their work.