IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ayn Rand Institute, the leading center for the advancement of Rand's writings and philosophy, today announced that it is currently accepting essays in its thirty-second year of essay contests for students. Contestants compete by answering questions on one of three topics from one of Ayn Rand's novels: Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead and Anthem. The contests are open to students around the world, and all submissions must be in English. Students in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin are eligible for additional prize money. More than 500 prizes totaling $93,250 will be awarded in the three contests. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161130/444429LOGO High School Programs manager Matthew Morgen says: "We expect to receive more than 20,000 essays this year. Last year, two of the three winners were from outside the United States for the first time in the history of the contests." The Atlas Shrugged essay contest is open to all twelfth graders, college or university students and graduate students. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's masterpiece, the mysterious disappearance of the leading artists, intellectuals and businessmen is accelerating the collapse of the world's culture and economy. The story grapples with the fundamental problems of human existence, and presents radically new answers and Rand's vision of man's highest potential. Cash prizes of $36,000 will be awarded to 84 students, including a top cash prize of $20,000. The deadline for entry is April 28, 2017.