The P.E.I. Literacy Alliance says it won't be offering its summer tutoring program this year because it couldn't secure enough funding.

The program, which began in 2001, offered free one-on-one tutoring to elementary-aged students during the summer months.

About 25 university students were hired each summer to offer the tutoring.

The program is financed through a number of sources including the federal government, the province and the school boards.

Catherine O'Bryan, the executive director of the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance, said she couldn't apply for federal funding until she had all the other funding in place.

Since that didn't happen before the federal deadline, she had no choice but to put the program on hold for this year.  

She said it will be a loss for the students.

"I think it will make a big difference. There are a number of kids that need help just maintaining their skills over the summer, let alone improving them. We ask the resource teachers to prioritize the children that they recommend so that we get the children who are most in need of the help over the summer," said O’Bryan.

"And without the program being there, I think there will be a difference in the fall when the kids go back to school."

Grade 3 student Sophie Larter has taken part in the free program for the last two years. She loves to read but needs a bit of extra help with French.

"It's the sounds of the new words that I don't know -- so I really need help with those," she said.

Parents will now have to pay for tutoring out of pocket, which can run from $13 per hour up to $20 or even higher.

"We'll have to start looking at different prices and things like that, and looking for a good tutor that will suit her personality," said Natasha Larter, Sophie’s mother.

The program costs about $150,000 per year to run. The school boards usually contribute $8,000, and the province contributes $20,000. This year the Literacy Alliance was asking for additional money, because it has been facing a shortfall over the last several years.

Lynn Hufnagel, vice principal of Englewood school, worked as a resource teacher for seven years.

"They were using the resources that we gave them at the school, and it just was helpful in helping to maintain their skills that they worked so hard on over the school year," said Hufnagel.

"It's such a shame. They count on it every year especially for the kids that are struggling."

The program helped about 700 students per year.

The alliance is hoping to get enough funding in place to offer the program again in the summer of 2014.