By Jon King /

While college enrollment rates lag nationally, one local charter school says it is bucking that trend.

The Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy (CSPA) in Brighton says that according to data released by the office of Federal Student Aid, it saw a 53% gain in FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completions since last year. According to CSPA, the number contrasts with an 11.7% decrease in FAFSA completions for non-Title 1 schools in Michigan and a national 13% decrease in freshman college enrollment, as found by the National Student Clearinghouse.

The district noted that the increase was one factor in U.S. News and World Report naming CSPA as Michigan’s top charter high school with enrollment under 300 and in the top 94% of all Michigan high schools.

CSPA Principal Matthew Stewart said those accolades show their individualized learning approach is effective, “even in such a non-traditional year,” adding that their students “are heavily supported and mentored, which helps them develop a high school plan and appreciate intellectual engagement.”

The public school academy plans to open a separate middle school facility in the fall, across the street from its current location on Karl Greimel Drive, which has housed both middle and high school students since opening in 2008.