In an interview with The Sun, the 'Guns And Horses' singer revealed that a difficult home life led her to leave home at 16 years old and work her way through university.
"It was horrible. I was desperate to get out so I got really stuck in at school and tried my best to get a great education," she explained.
"I never remember having a plan. All I could think about was how I was going to afford to get into college or where I was going to stay because I hated being at home. I didn't really have time to think about anything in the future. I didn't think about a career or anything."
She went on to say that her self-sufficiency extended to her musical ambitions.
"I went to uni, got a couple of jobs, so I sort of funded it myself. I managed to buy myself a laptop and started writing music on it. I went home one weekend and the laptop was taken by bailiffs who came round when I was out," she said.
"Things like that would happen, but it only made me want to stand on my own two feet even more."
Goulding insisted that she has found it important to share her story in the hope of helping others who may also be struggling.
She said: "I think a lot of people would be closed about such a weird childhood but I just want other girls and boys in my situation to know they can do something and they can break away from it like I did."