James B. Morris Scholarship Application – FAQ

The Application is only available on the website (www.morrisscholarship.org); we will accept applications and supporting documents uploaded through our online process or in hard copy format mailed to the P.O. Box on or before February 28, 2023.  Please note the James B. Morris Scholarship application deadline is in February each year. The date is decided by the Board of Directors and posted on the website along with the application. THE APPLICATION PERIOD IS OPEN FROM NOVEMBER 11,  2022 THROUGH FEBRUARY 28, 2023.

Who is eligible to receive funding from the MSF?

Students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees who (1) consider themselves as African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Native American; (2) are U.S. Citizens with a social security number; (3) have a minimum 2.5 G.P.A.; (4) are an Iowa high school graduate and resident of Iowa attending any U.S. College or University or are a non-Iowa resident attending an Iowa college or university.

What is needed to apply?
1. An online profile/application, found at www.morrisscholarship.org
2. A writing sample about yourself and why you are applying for the scholarship. The essay must include any activities your are involved in and your future plans (minimum of 250 words and maximum of 500 words) uploaded to the online application
3. A recent photograph (head and shoulders only) uploaded to the online application (for press release)
4. An official transcript (high school transcript for high school seniors and most recent college semester for college students) sent to the MSF office
5. One or more letters of reference (at least one must be from an instructor) sent to the MSF office

Do I need an official transcript?
YES, an official transcript must be sent to the MSF office. If the transcript has been ordered and is on the way, let the office know. It does not have to reach us by the deadline since we realize it takes some schools longer than others to process. But it must reach us within 7 to 10 days of the deadline.

Do you need the application and all requested documents by the deadline?
It must be completed by the deadline.  The access to the online scholarship portal will be closed after that date.


James B. Morris Scholarship Fund – FAQ

Our Mission: The James B. Morris Scholarship Fund (MSF) provides financial assistance, motivation, and internship opportunities for minority students pursuing post-secondary and graduate degrees. The MSF provides this assistance to bright, talented, high-achieving individuals who demonstrate strong academic performance, dedicated community service and need financial aid. Our goal is to help provide young people an opportunity to learn, grow and become professionals in their chosen careers.

Who is James B. Morris?
James B. Morris Sr. was a leader and a role model for his generation of African Americans living in Iowa. A graduate of Hampton Institute in Virginia, J.B. became one of the first African American officers during World War I through the Colored Officers Training Program at Fort Des Moines. After the war, attorney Morris settled in Des Moines and emerged as one of the city's most influential black leaders. He was the editor and publisher of Iowa's oldest black newspaper, The Iowa Bystander, from 1922-1972. In 1925 he helped found the Negro Bar Association, now known as the National Bar Association. J.B. and his wife, Georgine, were staunch supporters of civil rights, and Georgine founded the Iowa State Conference of the NAACP in 1939. J.B. was a charter member, as well as serving as president of that organization.


When and why was the James B. Morris Scholarship Fund established?
A group of Des Moines community leaders established the James B. Morris Scholarship Fund in 1978 in honor of James B. and Georgine Morris for their contribution to law, journalism and the civil rights movement.


How is the James B. Morris Scholarship Fund administered?
A Board of Directors comprised of business and education leaders administers The James B. Morris Scholarship Fund.

Who receives Morris scholarships?
Our scholarships benefit Iowa’s students of color who are United States citizens. Rarely we support a student from another state who attends an Iowa college or university. Recipients are roughly 1/3 African American; 1/3 Asian; and 1/3 Latino.


How many scholarships have been awarded?
In the 30+ years since the Scholarship Fund was established, over 500 students have received over $1,000,000 in scholarship support. 
Click here to see this year's scholarship recipients.


Can students receive a Morris scholarship more than once?
Yes! The ability to receive a scholarship for more than one year is one of the unique and valuable aspects of the James B. Morris Scholarship. Most scholarships are awarded for one year only; Morris scholarship recipients are eligible to receive scholarship support for more than one year as long as they are enrolled as full time students (12 hours minimum) and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.  Students must reapply each year.


What percentage of students receive repeat scholarships?
Twenty percent of students receive repeat scholarships. This is why it is important for us to maintain a reserve of funds.


How are scholarships awarded?
A committee comprised of James B. Morris Scholarship Fund board members and others from the community screen applicants and rank them using a points system. Points are awarded for each applicant’s scholastic achievements (grade point), school activities, community activities, references, and financial need.


Are scholarships awarded based on need?
Scholarships are awarded based on a number of criteria, including grade point, school and community activity, and financial need. We ask applicants to list the financial aid they have applied for or received. We also ask what their family – and what they personally – will contribute. We do not ask if they have filled out the FAFSA.


What percentage of Morris recipients are low or moderate income?
Since financial need is only one criterion to receive a scholarship, we do ask for an applicant’s family income. We also ask the dollar amount that the family will contribute. In 2009, 90% of those who received a scholarship listed that their family was contributing $1,000 or less to their education. In 2008, 50% of recipients said their family was contributing $1,000 or less. Of course, these figures may or may not be a good barometer of family income.