From a fan's point of view, American Idol looks like nothing but a free ride to Hollywood to pursue your dreams. You get to fly to Hollywood, get a new wardrobe, a fancy place to live and live in the spotlight. But, being a finalist on American Idol is anything but a free ride to your dreams. Vanity Fair journalist Richard Rushfield, who has covered American Idol for many years, breaks it down for us in his new book "American Idol: The Untold Story." Here are just a few examples of what Richard tells us in his book about the true cost of being on American Idol.

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    Auditions Are Pricey

    During the audition process, you see the stories about people traveling long distances just to audition in front of the esteemed panel of judges. According to Rushfield, "What the TV audience doesn't see is, if you're from San Diego and you audition and make it through in St. Louis, then you have to return to St. Louis a month or two later for the next round, and then again for a third round. Some can't afford to and drop out."

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    Families Don't Get The Star Treatment

    While their loved one is living the Hollywood lifestyle and competing on the most watched talent show ever, their families have to find the funds to see them. All of their travel expenses have to come out of their own pocket, and for most, that can be a huge burden.

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    Contestants Have A Small Allowance For Clothes

    Ever wonder where Adam Lambert got those spikey jackets? Each week the contestants are given $450 to buy their outfits for the upcoming show. They take the money and one of the show's stylists and do some shopping in L.A. However, most contestants have to dig deep into their own pockets because $450 doesn't go very far when you're shopping at high class L.A. stores.

    Noel Vasquez, Getty Images
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    Most Lose Everything At Home

    Most of the time when you tell your boss or landlord that you're going away to Los Angeles to be a singer and compete on a television show, and you don't know how long you will be gone, they probably won't take it very well. A lot of contestants lose their job and even their apartments while they are off living their dream. This is a risk all contestants face.