When Teresa Ruiz Decker made the last payment on her student loans in June, she brought her four-year-old daughter to the computer to click the pay button.
"She doesn't understand," Decker said. "But my husband and I, we were just over the moon."
The triumphant moment came after years of payments after Decker graduated from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Even with the help of scholarships, she had about $60,000 in loans.
After consolidating her debts from her undergraduate and graduate degrees, her interest was about 6 percent. Her payments each month were about $380.
She was shocked to see that those payments barely made a dent in her balance.
"That was sort of like a turning moment for me," Decker said. "I told myself I'm not going to do this for the next 25 years."
After putting all the money she could toward her loans, Decker eventually brought her balance to just under $30,000.
"I was exhausted from trying to throw so much energy towards this problem," she said.