To provide rapid-response financial support so the most vulnerable and disenfranchised students could cover their basic living expenses and to help ensure that they could remain in school and complete their degrees as the pandemic and its economic consequences continued to unfold, The City University of New York (CUNY) offered the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief (CER) grant program, a one-time $500 lottery-based grant targeted to undocumented and low-income students. During the Spring 2020 semester, 4,000 qualifying students received the grant. The recipients were chosen randomly from a pool of about 20,000 students who were eligible and had applied to the program. To be eligible students had to: (1) seek a degree at CUNY during the school year 2019-20, and (2) belong to one of the following groups: undocumented or low-income students. In the case of low-income students, eligibility was determined by being within 12 credits of earning an undergraduate degree, and either having an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of zero on their federal financial aid application (FAFSA) or being a parent with any EFC. In contrast, undocumented students did not have to be within certain credits of graduation to be eligible, and they could be seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree. Eligible students amounted to close to 10% of the CUNY student population. Using academic administrative records, we exploit the randomization in the distribution of the CER grant program to evaluate the short- and medium-term impacts this one-time cash grant has on students’ academic persistence, academic performance, and degree completion up to two years after grant receipt. Using survey data, we explore the potential mechanisms behind these findings, including online-learning challenges, child- or family-care, employment stability, anxiety and stress, and food, housing and financial insecurity, among other potential explanations. Our findings will be helpful in shaping policies to anticipate and respond to future challenges, especially among the most underserved populations of students in New York City.